See The Shout Out Louds live in Philadelphia this week:
Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 @ Union Transfer
The Shout Out Louds with Haerts
Swedish group The Shout Out Louds have always pushed the envelope where their music was concerned. All the way from the early guitar crunch of 2003's Howl Howl Gaff Gaff (rereleased with a different tracklisting in '05), to the gentle synth shimmer of 2007's Our Ill Wills, and the nearly three year break that brought us the lovely songs from 2010's "Work" LP and one of its most memorable tracks, "Fall Hard"; the band has lifted up their ideas to match their swift progression from album to album surprising even their most ardent fans with the full breadth of their abilities over the years.
The group's brand new album Optica (released on Merge this year), takes their songs in another new direction altogether with a melancholy that harkens back to the softness and danceability of "Our Ill Wills," but with the strong songwriting and artillary of their album "Work" behind them. As with the band's previous albums, Optica has enough material here to keep the casual listener or fan easily excited and happy, but its complexities definitely make it a darker album (moreso) over previous works.
There are quite a few standout tracks on Optica to consider; whether it's sang loudly in the upbeat sunshine refrains of "Walking In Your Footsteps", or compared to the more quietly intense (and we swear we can hear lead singer Adam Olenius channeling Matt Berninger(s) (The National) but maybe we've been listening to too much of both) vocals on "Blue Ice" and its more dancier and brilliant counterpart in "14th of July".
If you were worried about missing the vocals of Bebban Stenborg, have no fear; she has another of the album's greatest tracks in "Hermila" which also has a fantastic bass line, is featured on the beginnings and pre-chorus of the sure summer-felt track in "Chasing The Sinking Sun", as well as standing out in the lovely backing harmonies on the track "Illusions" to highlight just a few of her stronger moments.
"When my heart stops / I'm letting you go / There'll be another one / To follow you home...."
(Hermila, Optica, The Shout Out Louds)
Out of all the tracks on the new album; "Blue Ice", "14th of July", "Hermila", the driving piano/synth of "Glasgow", "Where You Come In", the quiet in "Burn", and the album closer "Destroy" boast the band's most distinctive writing that we've heard yet. They really do deserve congratulations on Optica; it's by far and wide one of their most complex and interesting albums to date and should fit proudly and easily among The Shout Out Louds' already burgeoning discography.