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Those familiar with the site already know of my unquenchable thirst for contemporary Swedish indie music. Back in 2003, I came across the debut record from Stockholm’s Shout Out Louds and was instantly transfixed by the Pavement-meets-indiepop ethos of tracks like “The Comeback” and “100°.”
A year and a half later, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff received a very belated international release, and since then, the band has drummed up a well deserved reputation: they’ve played the Coachella Festival, been the subject of a laudatory New York Times piece, and landed spots on soundtracks to big budget movies including Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. On February 23, 2010, Shout Out Louds will release their third LP, entitled Work, courtesy of Merge Records. Produced by Phil Ek (he of The Shins and Band of Horses fame), the record finds the band pursuing a more focused, stripped-down vision.
This pared back approach can be heard on the record’s first single, “Walls,” which begins with a tempo tapped out on a snare drum alongside occasional piano notes and Adam Olenius’ husky, hooky vocals. When the rest of the band digs in, the guitars sit at the head of the table; synth and piano make their appearances, but subordinate themselves to Olenius’ melodies and the substantial guitar riffs. As a result, “Walls” lacks some of the immediacy of Shout Out Louds’ earlier singles but pays greater dividends upon repeated listens. If this is any indication, Work will be the sort of record that grows dearer over time, slowly tunneling into those unshakable nooks in your mind rather than trying to dazzle you upfront with layered orchestration. Which is not to say that “Walls” doesn’t have instant appeal–it most certainly does. But that appeal will reveal itself even further on your sixth or sixteenth listen. With “Walls,” Shout Out Louds continue to prove themselves as one of the best bands from a region whose musical soil is perhaps the most fertile in the world.