It seems like our obsession with Sweden has faded since a few years back, but luckily for us, there is still a lot of great music coming from the Scandinavian country. It’s the home of Shout Out Louds, a quintet who has slowly built a following in the States by releasing several albums chocked full of pop hooks and those crafty Swedish melodies. Work is another solid display of a band who knows their strengths, who can pull them off with such precision that it’s hard to find a thing wrong.
We’ll start our journey with “1999,” a tune that spends its first thirty seconds tinkering away on the piano before Adam Olenius’ vocals kick in to really get the song going. Just for fun, they toss in a couple of “oohs” to grab you with a little hook. But, where some bands might push the limit during the chorus, Olenius has the band pull back, leaving a perfect pop gem in the wake.
You can continue to push through this record, and those of you who are familiar with Shout Out Louds will notice that the work of Phil Ek (producer) has really put the spotlight on the group’s assets. Sure, they have those New Order guitar chords cutting in and out of the entire album, but you’ll definitely take note of the percussion. One of the things that made bands of this ilk so fashionable was the drummer, and Eric Edman definitely solidifies everything in the music. He’s steady, and his delicate touch in songs like “Candle Burned Out” display his dynamics behind the kit.
Percussive elements are not the only noticeable difference with Work; Shout Out Louds have gradually grown a little bit softer. On Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, they seemed a lively bunch, eager to have you bounce around the club to their tunes, but that’s all changed. It appears now that they just want you to nod your head and tap your toes, which has admirable traits in itself. “Too Late, Too Slow” has a jangle to the guitars, but instead of pushing forward as the group has done in the past, they let vocal interplay between Olenius and Bebban Stenborg carry out the song. While it may not jump up and drag you to the dance floor, it might convince you to grab your lover and dance once around in the living room together. “Walls” does much the same thing. It chugs along pleasantly with steady guitar, and while you might find it catchy, it’s a restrained sense of joy. And, the chorus is quite emphatic, showing they’ve never strayed too far from where they began years ago. These are how perfect pop moments are made.
Just make sure that you save your dancing shoes because the group hasn’t given up entirely on their knack for throwing in a solid groove. You might have to wait until the end of the record, but “Show Me Something New” is not only one of the best tracks in this collection, it’s the one most likely to get you moving frivolously to and fro. Using Stenborg to balance out Olenius’ voice perfects the chorus, and it seems the group can do little else to win you over.
Shout Out Louds seem to have outlived the fad of the Swedish invasion, and they’ve done so by not sacrificing their original formula. Instead, they’ve chosen to perfect each inch of recorded material; they’ve pushed Adam’s vocals to new levels, and they’ve pushed themselves to an entirely new levels. Work shows a band who have finally found the place where they’re the most comfortable writing great pop songs, and we’ll all be better off for it.
Download: Shout Out Louds – Walls [MP3]