Believe the hype, but not the inference.
Unlike its moniker, this Swedish quintet walks softly and carries a big hook. The music swirls rather than churns; solo-free guitars layer over '80s-style keyboards as singer Adam Olenius carries the songs with a nonchalant and pleading yet resigned voice reminiscent of New Order's Bernard Sumner on a rainy day.
Playing "spot the influence" is fun -- there's the Velvet Underground, a little Luna, some Echo & the Bunnymen, the Go Betweens and Pernice Brothers -- but it's ultimately futile.
Tunes drift by, wafting around choruses like cigarette smoke in a musty film noir. A childlike xylophone brightens "A Track and a Train" as the song builds to a sumptuous Phil Spector-ian climax. The strings in "Oh, Sweetheart" appear unexpectedly against a garage beat and a shape-shifting melody as impossible to get out of your brain as it is to predict.
Each song is unique, but none interrupts the album's muted, melancholy pop mood. The liner notes simply specify "music by Shout Out Louds," and it's that sense of selflessness that makes this album such a restrained treasure.
Few tracks jump out, but every song beckons you back to discover its layered pleasures, often oblique lyrical nuances and understated melodic charms. As shadowy, mysterious and muted as the album's cover painting, the Shout Out Louds have delivered a stirring debut that, contrary to the band's name, whispers, sighs and purrs.
Shout Out Louds play the Loft Tues., Nov. 1, 8 p.m., with the Essex Green. $12. 1374 W. Peachtree St. 404-885-1365. www.theloftatl.com.
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
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