Our choice of the week's best releases is the sixth album from the innately melodic Swedes
Is there something in the water that makes Sweden such a hotbed for pop music? Are they just an innately melodic people? Do they pipe Abba into the womb? Sure, there’s the Scandi fab four and the likes of The Cardigans, Robyn, The Knife, First Aid Kit, but even when you dig a little deeper, the sugary joy keeps coming: The Wannadies, Popsicle, I’m From Barcelona, Loney Dear, Shout Out Louds…
The latter have returned with their sixth album in 17 years. Not a prolific output by anyone’s standards (except maybe Guns N’ Roses) but the quality renders that a pointless quibble. Ever since their magnificent debut Howl Howl Gaff Gaff in 2005, the band have made minor adjustments to their gloriously catchy guitar pop with uniformly superb results.
Over the course of those six albums, the shimmering, jangling sounds of that debut have shifted in a new wave direction, guitars echoing around gated drums and atmospheric synths before choruses explode in glorious technicolour. There’s a sense of immediacy too, as if these songs fell out of the band this way, rather than being pored over endlessly.
House’s opening track ‘As Far Away As Possible’ boasts a swooning refrain and yearning vocals that wouldn’t sound out of place in between The Cure and New Order on an 80s mixtape. ‘Mixed Up’ has an anthemic chorus that cries out for festival crowds at sundown, while ‘My Companion’ needs a teen movie protagonist to cathartically holler its verses in romantic frustration, like a ‘Don’t Change‘ for the 2020s.
The secret to House’s success is that Shout Out Louds have clearly concentrated on songwriting over atmosphere. Too often the accoutrements stand in for substance when a band recreates a specific sound, but Adam Olenius and co. are such gifted songwriters that you feel these songs could have leant themselves to myriad styles with ease.
When the output is this stellar, Shout Out Louds can take as long as they want between records.