The Sounds

Living in America

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The Sounds embrace the decades-old bands that have inspired them to an unhealthy, cover band-like extent -- they pose for photographs as if they're Blondie, and they both look and play the part, with black T-shirts, faded jeans, and snappy three-minute songs with trebly keyboard vamps and tightly wound guitar riffs. But the thing you cannot take away from the members of this Swedish group is that they know how to write and play songs that fit into their favorite era without the sense that specific songs are being cloned. More than that, the group has a bright, singular personality in powerful lead singer Maja Ivarsson, who has a multi-dimensional voice of her own -- her Debbie Harry isn't nearly as obvious as the guy from the Hives' Mick Jagger, for instance. If you value fun over originality -- and you should, especially when it comes to guitar bands at this point -- the Sounds' debut will serve its purpose. It's over with in 40 minutes, and it plays out like a collection of A-sides. If a legion of bands can get away with relying on Nuggets fetishes, why can't a handful get away with taking several cues from Missing Persons, the Cars, and Blondie?

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