Shout Out Louds

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Work Review

by Tim Sendra

Shout Out Louds' third album is another shift in sound for the band. After its first album, the reckless and energetic Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, the band moved to a much heavier, gloomier feel on the follow-up, Our Ill Wills. Both approaches were successful and led to albums that packed a powerful emotional punch. For 2010’s Work, the band decided to head to America to record with Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, the Shins) and also chose to strip away the extra elements from its sound and keep things simple. It’s a wise decision in some respects, because Our Ills Wills was at times quite overwrought and pushed right to the edge of being too gloomy and dramatic. Here the lyrical mood is lighter and less desperate; it only makes sense that the music should match that. To that end, there are less layers of sound on Work; the synths have been replaced by pianos, the drums and bass are clear and punchy, the guitars are often acoustic, and the strings and horns are used sparingly. This push for simplicity could have been a disaster leading to a boring record that tossed away the things that made Shout Out Louds so interesting to begin with, like their reckless energy, the drama and desperation that coursed through their blood, or vocalist Adam Olenius' yearning vocals. Fortunately, while the tempos may be slower, the sound less cluttered, and the approach more measured, the songs are still very good, the bandmembers (and Ek) pay close attention to crafting dynamic arrangements, and Olenius delivers the emotional goods exactly as expected. "Fall Hard," "Throwing Stones," and "Show Me Something New" are as catchy and insistent as anything from their first album; "Too Late Too Slow" and "Play the Game" are as majestic and shattering as anything from Our Ill Wills. Taken as a whole, Work is just as engaging and powerful as their previous output and demonstrates almost no drop-off in quality. It takes a special group to be able to change its sound every time out and still keep its core competencies intact. Work proves that Shout Out Louds are exactly that.

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