After ten years, this group has not forgotten how to turn lemons into lemonade and it still tastes pretty damn good.
There is something about opening song Sugar from Shout Out Louds' fourth album Optica that sounds like it belongs in a John Hughes movie. It has a Molly Ringwald smile or a Judd Nelson swagger. The new wave vocals and enchanting synths kick this romp off into Swedish indie pop with a promise of handpicked flowers and slow dances in the moonlight.
Shout Out Louds have found a breezier niche after 2010's Work, and each song here sounds full yet understated. Where Work was stripped-back and almost stark at the hands of producer Phil Ek, Optica was self-produced over a year and a half, providing a much richer sense of what this band is really about. There is an overarching romantic yearning present that makes the heart swell with the ebbs and flows of each wistful guitar hook.
Indie music has recently taken a walk down lo-fi lane, and while countless bands have been discovered along the way, it's refreshing to go back to sonically big, emotionally charged songs such as Illusionsand 14th Of July. Standout track Blue Ice could almost be a hidden cut from The National's 2010 album High Violet with its pensive slow build to an unreached climax. Chasing The Sinking Sun follows the familiar contrasting recipe of mismatched tempos and nostalgic lyrics. Walking In Your Footsteps attempts the same, but the playful flutes are almost twee and detract from the moody refrains. This might be the only misstep of the record, however. After ten years, this group has not forgotten how to turn lemons into lemonade and it still tastes pretty damn good.