The Sounds
Something to Die For


2.5
average

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
March 24th, 2011 | 20 replies | 10,216 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dying to stay relevant.

Who are the Sounds? Rhetorical question: the Sounds don’t even know who they are. The Swedish quintet have always been a bit derivative, to put it kindly: 2002’s Living in America and its two follow-ups faithfully updated the new wave/post-punk sound that virtually every other up and coming band was doing in the new millennium. Luckily, the Sounds had Maja Ivarsson, an icy blonde who injected some verve into the band’s rapidly tiring formula. She could only do so much, however; 2009’s Crossing the Rubicon was a stale product that would have sounded hip in 2004. Now we have Something To Die For and first single “Better Off Dead,” which has the Sounds veering off into an entirely new dance direction, one that Ivarsson’s vocals and personality are well suited for. “Better Off Dead” is a strange song coming from the Sounds, drum machine claps and electro synths framing a sparse piano line and Ivarsson’s Debbie Harry on Ecstasy vocals. But it’s something much of Crossing the Rubicon was not, namely catchy and, well, intriguing. It’s unfortunate the rest of the album comes off as the work of a band failing at reinventing themselves.

The problem with Something To Die For is that it’s an album built to succeed on the strength of its hooks and not its songwriting. With lyrics like “there’s no time to regret / I’m laying naked on my bed / I’m better off dead,” you better have some monster hooks. “Better Off Dead” does. So does “The No No Song,” idiotic song title aside (there’s also a song called “Yeah Yeah Yeah” here. Even the Sounds’ song titles are conflicted). “Diana,” too, and that also happens to be the best song on the record. It’s the Sounds doing what they do best, sharp, incisive guitar pop with a new wave bent and a killer chorus that Ivarsson sells strong. It’s a shame, because when the Sounds are dicking around with dance the result is more often than not embarrassing. “Dance With The Devil” has a beat that sounds like a Ke$ha reject and vapid lyrics to match. “It’s So Easy” builds and builds and goes nowhere. “Something To Die For;” “Won’t Let Them Tear Us Apart;” “The Best of Me;” they’re all just merely serviceable, and when you have a new indie/dance/blog-ready band around the corner ready to do the same and charge less for their show, maybe you should just go back to what you know best.

Something To Die For ends with “Wish You Were Here,” a wisp of a ballad with just Ivarsson and a guitar. It’s charming, if a little insubstantial, but Ivarsson has always been the heart of the Sounds and their saving grace, keeping them around when dozens of clones have long failed. Without all the studio effects and faux electro beats, it’s nice to see there’s still that talent there, although she has some work to do if she wants to make good on her desire to be “the best female vocalist [this century].” Maybe it’s time for a Maja Ivarsson solo record? I’d like to dream, but this isn’t the mid ‘90s, and female singer-songwriters are just so passé.



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user ratings (36)
Chart.
3.3
great
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the academy (4)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2011



9982 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

sorry academy

theacademy
March 24th 2011



27668 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

dude, we have the same opinion, only i 5'd it

weird, like down to the exact songs (favs being 'better off no no diana')

it's not perfect, but i have to say i am happy that its better than crossing the rubicon... i think this is basically a better version of that album/of that sound (with Better Off Dead being the exception (the song out of left field))... but sadly its nothing like a return to the old...


great write-up dude

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2011



9982 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

love diana tho

theacademy
March 24th 2011



27668 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i actually think "Best of Me" is the worst track + don't mind "Dance With the Devil" but ur gripe with
the opener is spot on

theacademy
March 24th 2011



27668 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

and yea, diana = metal as fuck

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2011



9982 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

everything after better off dead kind of blends together for me although i actually like the hook on yeah yeah yeah

theacademy
March 24th 2011



27668 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

the thing about the last track is that i think maja has a good voice for either style, but it just doesn't belong on the album... it caught me off guard

id actually be down for a whole album of her singing slowish songs in her awkward as fuck accent, but idk... this album really needed more Tony the Beat attitude + that is basically the opposite

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2011



9982 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

did i tell you when i met her in person at my internship two summers ago i almost came. just kidding i did come

theacademy
March 24th 2011



27668 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

lol i woulda. buckets.

lancebramsay
March 24th 2011



1585 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I listened to this and thought "This is pretty awesome"... Then I listened again the next day and thought "Was I fucking high?", then I realized, I was.

GulliKyro
March 24th 2011



357 Comments


Its appears they collected all the events of 1989, threw them into a blender and this is what came out.

Its enjoyable but in a highly embarrassing way, like drunken sex with somebody with bad teeth.

AggravatedYeti
March 24th 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

The problem with Something To Die For is that it’s an album built to succeed on the strength of its hooks and not its songwriting.

this is pretty much how I feel about all of their albums ever.
excellent stuff Rudy.

mvdu
March 24th 2011



594 Comments


Really like "Dying to say this to You," so I guess I'll still check this out. Good review, though. Sometimes good hooks really can make up for mediocre songwriting.

theacademy
March 24th 2011



27668 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

like drunken sex with somebody with bad teeth.


bad as in dirty or crooked

WatchItExplode
March 24th 2011



3068 Comments


I enjoyed the first two quite a bit, lost track after that.

GulliKyro
March 24th 2011



357 Comments


Dirty. One cannot be blamed for the vagaries of birth or the lack of cosmetic surgery money. A mouth smelling like a sulfer pit is inexcusable however.

That said I have decided Dance with the devil transcends levels of trashy enjoyment to emerge in a twilight zone of awesome.

tkxxx7
March 26th 2011



6146 Comments


album art looks like a Glasser rip-off

xfearbefore
March 28th 2011



1192 Comments


Oh sh--The Sounds have a new album out? I must procure said album and return with my thoughts. I'm not too sure I should though after reading this review. Looks like a band that might just fade as being one-hit wonders in my eyes because of that awesome "Hurt You" single that used to be in that Geico commercial. Fuck how good is that song?

Digging: Ultravox - Vienna

theacademy
November 17th 2013



27668 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this CD is so good still maybe even better than when i reviewed it

theacademy
November 17th 2013



27668 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

also i have come to hate the No No song but this is a 5 dude



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