Shout Out Louds
Optica


3.3
great

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
February 27th, 2013 | 23 replies


Release Date: 02/26/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: feels like i'm wearing nothing at all nothing at all

Our late, great Robin Smith called Our Ill Wills “a collection of songs that captured whatever they wanted to capture in their fleeting minutes,” an album “sung delicately and beautifully” and “a sugar hit even at its saddest,” and that’s about as compelling a summary of Shout Out Louds’ wistful, sunset-streaked romanticism as I could ever hope to muster. Smith called them cute and irrelevant, too, but mixed messages aside, Our Ill Wills was a highpoint for Swedish indie pop, for a genre and culture that dominated the blogosphere back when getting a song on an iPod commercial meant something. The craftsmanship and melodicism that made Shout Out Louds the Great Northern Hope has never really abandoned them, but the emotional nakedness that singer Adam Olenius used to drag us through the dirt with him appeared to be left out in the cold after “Hard Rain” ended with thunder in 2007. That’s a shame, too – their last effort, Work, was a pristine, efficient model of indie pop, sparkling in its harmonies and immediate in its hooks but with a production that was cold to the touch. It was the wrong kind of icy northern beauty.

Shout Out Louds’ core aesthetic has always been wrapping up the heartbreak and the grief and the nostalgia, all those pesky human frailties, around a wonderfully warm tapestry of bright, impeccably produced pop. It helps that Olenius yips like the Swedish Robert Smith, but the weight of the world - or the weight of the collective critical shrug that greeted Work – has had its effect. That spirited yelp is more controlled and conversational, a happy voice only on its face but still game; the lilting, Shins-y “Sugar” and the measured disco-rock of “Illusions” start Optica off on the right clog. Even when Olenius is little more than a withdrawn mumble on “Glasgow,” the band’s golden ear for production pays off, bringing in the lovely Bebban Stenborg for some backing vocals that shoots the melancholia through with a vibrant bit of whimsy. Despite doubling down on an electronic sound that pays homage to New Order and washed-out ‘80s dance, Optica feels more lived-in than its uber-professional predecessor, earnest and inviting despite the voluminous, cold soundscapes it inhabits. Glacial first single “Blue Ice” has no right to sound as interesting as it is – a warmed over midtempo ballad, one of many that swoon along to expansive synths and indulge in lyrics cribbed from your high school’s worst closeted romantic – but that lush production is a cosmic joy, painted in the same glorious Technicolor swathes the band’s video for it evokes.

The choruses are huge, the production immaculate, the vocal performances an adequately torn mix of regret and heartbreak and sugary climaxes, yet Optica never really latches on in any meaningful way. The closest it comes is when dissonance threatens to break through and rip that carefully woven tapestry just a little. Stenborg’s brisk turn on the creepy “Hermila,” the hot-blooded “14th of July,” and the antagonistic guitar squawks and discordant synths that twist through closer “Destroy” like the ghost in the machine all stand out mainly because they demand the facade let its guard down for a second, to let those emotional cracks reveal themselves in more than just the lyrics. It’s a paradoxical situation for Shout Out Louds – the better they’ve gotten at refining their craft, at writing the perfect chorus and combining them seamlessly with organic, vivid sonics, the further away they’ve gotten from the wounded empathy that drove their earlier records. At least ice burns. Optica too often feels like nothing at all.



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user ratings (13)
Chart.
3.1
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
robin
Emeritus
February 26th 2013


4257 Comments


i don't remember playing the piano in your parents livingroom

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2013


17939 Comments


feels like i'm wearing nothing at all nothing at all

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2013


10543 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

thanks chan that is what i was looking for

Digging: Jessie Ware - Tough Love

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2013


17939 Comments


: D

ExcentrifugalForz
February 26th 2013


1810 Comments


You've been watching too much Simpsons.

NightmareCinema16
February 26th 2013


2016 Comments


Lemme guess, we're all drunk. :J

Jom
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2013


2689 Comments


STUPID SEXY FLANDERS!

SeaAnemone
February 26th 2013


20824 Comments


Rudy, if Howl Howl Gaff Gaff could have been hyperbolic-ally described as the "soundtrack to my 9th grade year," would I enjoy this you think?

YoYoMancuso
February 26th 2013


11187 Comments


You've been watching too much Simpsons.


i know this was directed at klap but it goes for me too

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2013


10543 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

yeah you'll probably enjoy this eric. better than Work that's for sure

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2013


7318 Comments


"Our late, great Robin Smith"

Pos.

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
February 27th 2013


23964 Comments


but did you have to salt the earth so that nothing could ever grow again?

heh, yeah

Digging: Taylor Swift - 1989

Chrisjon89
February 27th 2013


3833 Comments


literally laughed at the summary.

robin
Emeritus
February 27th 2013


4257 Comments



but did you have to salt the earth so that nothing could ever grow again?

heh, yeah


i've got an RV we can use! flanders's!

foxblood
February 27th 2013


6797 Comments


wow summary lol

Gyromania
February 27th 2013


15964 Comments


aw i was hoping this would be better

ComfortablyDumb
February 27th 2013


395 Comments


So looking at the chart, a 3.3 rounds down to a 3 instead of a 3.5?

C'mon sputnik, math.

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 27th 2013


10543 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

^yeah that's weird because it says Great instead of Good under the rating

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
February 27th 2013


23964 Comments


you are so much better than virtually every other reviewer on this damn site, it's intimidating.

when the law career fizzles out (I heard lawyers weren't even in high demand anymore, especially not in LA.....) you can fall back on your writing!

Tyrael
February 27th 2013


20945 Comments


'you are so much better than virtually every other reviewer on this damn site, it's intimidating.'

pretty much this except for the fact that Kyle Ward exists but yea

Digging: Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste



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