Friday, October 12th, 2007
Most everything you read about Our Ill Wills, the sophomore effort from Stockholm’s Shout Out Louds, will have a common reference point – The Cure. This is both deserved and not. To the former, it’s simply fact that singer Adam Olenius is, vocally, as dead a ringer for Robert Smith as you’ll find in Sweden and the downbeat jubilation of “Tonight I Have To Leave It”, the first single and the album’s leadoff track, is so evocative of The Cure at their poppiest – think “In Between Days” or “Just Like Heaven” – that ignoring the similarities is like ignoring the giant, mascara-laden elephant in the room.
But extrapolating that one song out to the whole record is doing it a real disservice. Over the next eleven tracks, The Cure influence doesn’t really weigh any heavier than the other ’80s British rock acts that the band obviously grew up on (Smiths, Stone Roses, New Order) though Olenius obviously sounds more Smith than Moz, Brown or Sumner. And even there, Ill Wills is more than just a rehash of the sounds of Thatcher-era England. Instead, it sounds very much like contemporary Swedish indie-pop – warm and organic but with a healthy studio sheen – thanks in no small part to the involvement of ubiquitous producer Bjorn Yttling.
Songwriting throughout is kept at a high standard throughout – always melodic and meticulously arranged – but at points, it really soars. Album centrepiece “Impossible” is a particular gem, the music slowly but insistently swelling to anthemic stature despite the gloriously defeatist lyrics they have to carry and the chorus, as simple as it is, just slays. “Time Left For Love” and “Hard Rain” are also standouts that validate the album beyond any criticisms of influence-sleeving (is that a term? Is now). Shout Out Louds may not be peddling a new sound, but it is a good one. Their North American tour kicks off tonight in Vancouver and will wind its way to the Mod Club on October 22.
The Georgia Straight tackles the Cure thing head on in talking to the band, Wireless Bollinger slips it in towards the end of their conversation, Lunapark only asks about the influence of Head In The Door and Chart doesn’t bring it up at all.
MP3: Shout Out Louds – “Tonight I Have To Leave It”
Video: Shout Out Louds – “Tonight I Have To Leave It” (MOV)
Video: Shout Out Louds – “Impossible” (YouTube)
Stream: Shout Out Louds / Our Ill Wills
MySpace: Shout Out Louds
Pitchfork reports that the Beirut videos assembled at www.flyingclubcup.com – I talked about them earlier this week – will be compiled on a DVD entitled Cheap Magic Inside. It’ll be available sometime around November while the band is touring Europe. Paste also has an interview with Zach Condon while Rolling Stone declares them a “breaking band”.