For bands that have been together for 10 years, it's a pretty tough feat to remain as rooted as Shout Out Louds. Since their formation, the Swedish gang haven't lost their tight grip on that energetic, pop quality that catapulted their stardom years back. With the release of their fourth album, Optica, we are taken back to those times, and we're reminded exactly how they have managed to succeed. Whether it's their friendly dynamics, their spirited harmonies, or uncanny ability to elegantly integrate sounds, Shout Out Louds have prevailed by creating refreshing pop tunes in a time when successful pop musicians get away with sounding all too alike. Optica is no exception to this.
"And Im growing old/Sugar on my tongue/Still, I know the taste of it,/And the notion filled with words I know," wallows Adam Olenius on the opening track, "Sugar". With a quick listen, we can let out a sigh of relief as we realize how long it's been since 2010's Work. From the start, you can tell this album will actually sound like an album, not a list through which we must sift through the hits or misses. The mood is uplifting, glittered by brass, woodwind, strings, and synth. It all reads intimidating, but Shout Out Louds managed to bring an orchestral feel that doesn't diminish their pop elements. In fact, it adds entirely new dimensions.
The pre-released singles "Blue Ice" and "Walking in Your Footsteps" each have their own stunning energy that carries you through the bridge, leaving you somewhat saddened when they're finished. "Blue Ice" sounds suitable for a John Hughes soundtrack. You can almost see Molly Ringwald walk into the dance, or perhaps leave to this track, after seeing Anthony Michael Hall show off his dance moves. It's noteworthy that Optica explores a different sound, while still managing to evoke nostalgia simultaneously. The reappearing, electric flute over synth juxtaposition is incredible. It's hard to lace catchy guitar riffs alongside symphonies in pop music.
Earlier this week, we talked to Adam Olenius about the album. He noted their desire for a "lush sound," and how they wanted "beats that sound like Disney on drugs," and "horns that sound like a car chase." And with that, we simply could not word it better ourselves. Optica provides refreshing qualities often left behind on pop albums. This is a need for a more refined direction, and an overall imaginative sound. Shout Out Louds aren't here to prove anything but their relentless drive to remain colorfully contemporary.