Posted: March 13, 2022 in MUSIC

There’s always been a little bit of The Cure found within the fabric of Swedish indie outfit Shout Out Louds. For one thing, there’s the band’s name likely a nod to lyrics on the British band’s 1992 song “High.” Then there are the spritely but melancholy guitar licks that have embedded themselves in their songs over the course of their 21-year existence, little shimmers of reference, influence, and homage. And while nobody really sounds like Robert Smith, on occasion through the years frontman Adam Olenius has managed to channel the messy-haired, eyeliner-wearing icon with his own vocals. And just as few do hopelessly romantic like The Cure, Shout Out Louds certainly give them a good run for their money. 

None of that is more audible or visible than on this, the Stockholm-based five-piece’s sixth full-length. Its second song is called “High As a Kite.” It’s admittedly a common phrase, but one that can’t help but evoke, again, the sad-summer glee of “High” and its impressionistic opening imagery: “When I see you sky as I kite / As high as I might / I can’t get that high.” That comparison might be a stretch were it not preceded by opener “As Far Away As Possible,” a blissful dose of nostalgia that contains some incredibly Cure-esque guitar lines. And then the third song shares its title with The Cure’s 1990 remix album, Mixed Up. Coincidence? Possibly. Ultimately, deliberate or otherwise, those frames of reference exist. And they’re utterly glorious.

House” is just eight songs long, but it draws you deeply into the warm memories that serve as its foundation, into those long drawn-out summer days of youth, of being promising and wide-eyed and happy to be alive—and far removed from the bleak realities of 2022. “Sky & I (Himlen)” expands on that sentiment and sentimentality both literally and figuratively. “Let me stay here forever / Let me get lost in time,”sings Olenius, lost but somehow comfortable. “No one knows who I am / It’s between the sky and I.”

He’s joined on the song by the band’s Bebban Stenborg, who only adds to its bittersweet atmosphere when she sings the line “Feeling something between pain and pleasure”—and you’re suddenly trapped in the amber of time, between past and present, love and loss. 

That’s something felt in equal measure on “Multiply,” which soars with dreamy escapism before album closer “Sometimes Sometimes” drops the mood somewhat, ending this sublime album on a note of beautifully sad resignation. “I wanna stay, wanna say, I’m so sorry for everything,” sings Olenius at the start of the second verse, setting up the mood that pervades this crescendo’s crescendo: “I wish you knew me yesterday / I was all-time high / Light years from how I feel today / That’s how it is sometimes.” That last line repeats over and over, emphatic and sad and defiant, conveying so much emotion beyond those five lines. Because, really, what else is there to say?

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