Sound — 10
I was looking for some information about Shout Out Louds and what I found in the "about" section on their website wasn't a mysterious story about how they found each other and realized they're meant to play music together. Instead of that I found out that they are "four boys and one girl from Stockholm in Sweden" and they "play music together in a band." Putting it easy and frank in their press release, as well as everywhere else. They were formed in 2001 when friends Adam (vocals), Ted (bass guitar), and Carl (guitar) asked Eric (drums) and Bebban (keyboards) to join them to make a band. They had only three songs in reserve, when they were signed to a Swedish record company Bud Fox Recordings and recorded their first three-track EP "Very Loud" in February 2005. Touring hard all through Scandinavian countries and America, gained Shout Out Louds a contract with their first big American record label -- Capitol Records, which "fed us pizza, flavored vitamin water, violet candy and chicken with parmesan which we all liked a lot except for our singer who is not very fond of cheese so he only liked it a little." Shout Out Louds being disarming sincere here as always. Their debut full-length album Howl Howl Gaff Gaff was out in May 2005. As their famous predecessors like ABBA, Ace Of Base and The Cardigans, Shout Out Louds make their own mark in music, not looking back on any stamps and fashion (well, that's true at least to American music world, being honest, I don't know what's going on in Sweden). Which can be best described as new wave and indie rock with vintage melodies and a sentimental touch. They know how to make a good song, but at the same time are not afraid to experiment with the sound. "The Comeback" that album starts with is the first song the band wrote. It starts with a line of bleeps meant to be a "here we go" message. A piece of '80s New Wave "A Train And A Track" catches your attention from the very first seconds. It starts with a charismatic xylophone melody that makes you want to go play that weird instrument for no particular reasons. "Go Sadness" is an acoustic somber song with overwhelming nostalgia. The band stripes down in this one to a line of one-note guitar and a couple of teardrop keyboard chords, while the focus of the song is on vocals. Anthem alt-rock "Very Loud" is the first single. It's driven by machining drum beat and moaning guitars which creates a romantic mood. A desperate "Please Please Please," where Adam pleads to his lover "Please please please come back to me" is among my favorites. I like his skeptic "but we're all happy 'cause the streets they're always there for us and it's quite scary when you wake up in the same old clubs." Most of the songs are crafted by easy head-nodding drum beats and dreamy guitar riffs with a good help of keyboard while the harmonic structures are very easy.
Lyrics — 8
They are not very deep or profound. Just easy words to make a pop song sound fun. They are beautifully sung though and that's what matter the most here. The subjects are universal -- everybody's been through loosing loved ones, break-downs, fears of failure. You can't help but sympathizing with a singer 'cause you know how it feels. Adam sings in a crooney, whiney manner. That, combined with his scratchy voice, sounds surprisingly good.
Overall Impression — 8
That's a terrific achievement for the musicians with not very big experience behind, as well as for the debut album. That's a very solid and emotional record. Most of the songs are wonderfully catchy. They are so easy to listen to and put you in a happy "don't worry" mood. That's perfect background music for a summer vacation drive with your friends. Howl Howl Gaff Gaff is not just a collection a good pop songs. It sounds more like one lovestory, consisting of 11 chapters with an epilogue (which is a little continuation of Seagull after a few seconds of silence). Changing the mood and feel with every new song, the album sounds very harmonious at the same time. The whole thing is loaded with pure sparkling energy. These Swedish '60s and '80s pop influenced romantics may be the new hope for European music or follow the steps of the majority of the "next big things," who disappear after the first success. Being honest, I don't think the idea of "simpletons from Sweden" would drive the next album with the same success, so hopefully the guys would come up with some new ideas to create their own sound.