Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Art of the Cover - Shout Out Louds' "Optica" (2013)

Beautiful cover. Beautiful music.

For their wonderful fourth LP, Shout Out Louds really took their time with the songs.

Producing the album  themselves for first time, they recorded for almost 2 years in a small Stockholm studio and . A theme emerged and the awesome was born, an album celebrating color and light from a band confident in its sound.

2007's "Our Ill Wills" marked a high point for me for Scandanavian pop -- it was a perfect blend of "Head on the Door" era Cure and Johnny Marr influenced guitar wonder, all put together with a mix of panache and heartbreak. After that album, I wanted to embrace their follow up "Work", but it was a little more of a glum affair without any relief, and although I enjoyed it, it didn't have the same longevity with me. I approached Optica with a little more trepidation--would this be more "Work"? Or something else? 

I am happy to report that this has all the sass and sweetness of "Our Ill Wills" but has also gained an even lighter touch with production, never sounding cloying or downtrodden, and by the same token, avoiding an overly precious wrong turn as well. This album does what well done pop is supposed to do--it gets into your brain and your heart, starts your fingers snapping, and next thing you know you are singing along to songs you have only heard once. Now, that is not to say that all the lyrics are about bunnies and rainbows--we are still talking about a band that does heartbreak like it should be done--sweet and bitter enough to break your heart all over again. But somehow, hearing it from these guys makes the pain sweet, the nostalgia for things lost somehow brighter, and the hope to carry on a little easier. It's a wonderful ride, and a great example of indie pop at its finest.


1. Sugar
2. Illusions
3. Blue Ice
4. 14th of July
5. Burn
6. Walking in Your Footsteps
7. Glasgow
8. Where You Come In
9. Hermila
10. Chasing the Sinking Sun
11. Destroy

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