Sweden’s Shout Out Louds may be all grown up, having recently celebrated the 10th anniversary since their debut LP, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, but their bubbly soundscapes still play out with peppy, childlike innocence. Full of rich, romantic grandeur, their synth-pop ballads shimmer with warmth. Playing tracks from its latest album, Optica, named after the science of light, the band emits an illuminating glow in the darkness of the Music Hall Of Williamsburg.
Chirpy opener “Sugar” is a triumphant crowd-pleaser with reverb-heavy vocals and a vivid orchestral arrangement. Frontman Adam Olenius sings, “And I’ve been jumpin’ in the dark too long/And now I know what I’ve been searching for,” telling us just what the group’s been up to. They go on to spawn a sun-swept ambience as the audience leaves the chills of the outside behind for a night of bright, fiery color. The buoyant anthem “Walking In Your Footsteps” then sweeps in as a spotlight guides Olenius’s recognition: “It’s where you’re going/In a dark tunnel, blindfolded.”
Familiar oldies like “Fall Hard,” “Impossible” and “Bicycle” are scrumptious parcels of joy that have the crowd singing along. “Burn” then rides in on elated seagull calls before the thrashing drums and Bebban Stenborg’s angelic voice sets in with “You say we’ll hold on, hold on until we expire.”
The transportive track “Glasgow” stirs with animal-like coos and a quick one-minute instrumental section that evoke images of the countryside. Set against purple and green tinges, the track conjures a powerful pastoral energy. Olenius looks to the crowd and says, “You know you’re in the U.S. when you smell that sweet stuff.” Unfortunately, the swooning “Blue Ice” drops the energy and kills the euphoric vibe. But by “Illusions,” the bliss returns with luscious harmonies, heartbeat drums and a jangly tambourine that’s playfully thrown in the air.
For “14th Of July” Olenius reaches for the bass, giving the festival-ready anthem an electric swagger in the vein of New Order, Flaming Lips or the Smiths. Flecks of pixie dust and catchy hooks fill the air as the band moves into the staggering “Very Loud,” which will always be a jewel of a song. The whole place suddenly explodes in erratic color, carried back to the band’s early days.