Twelve years on, they’ll still make you want to shout

Shout Out Louds **** (4 stars out of 6); April 9 at Lille Vega

A Tuesday night in town might not boast the greatest potential for entertainment. Grab a beer? Sure. Go to the theatre? I suppose. But where’s the oomph?

This past Tuesday, the answer was Lille Vega. A seemingly tame line-up in the form of pop singer Sibille Attar and the indie-pop stylings of Shout Out Louds, the concert brought together an escape into Sweden’s rising music scene. The night began quietly, with only a few people milling about the small concert room, swaying calmly to Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ and other spacey trip-hop tracks. Fog started to collect on the stage, and Attar, dressed in the Scandinavian uniform of all black, came on stage with her band.

She picked up a cowbell and, as the crowd waited in anticipation, said a few quick words in Swedish before starting up her brand of raw, hard pop. Her voice was a mix between Björk’s otherworldliness and the edginess of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’s Karen O, albeit younger and less harnessed. She seemed to be having fun on stage, alternating between rapidly hitting her cowbell and shaking away her star-shaped tambourines.

Attar is relatively new on the scene, even in Sweden. Her EP, The Flower’s Bed, was released in 2012, and it scored her a nomination at the Swedish Grammys for Best Newcomer. She then released her latest album, Sleepyhead, this past February, and has been heating up ever since. Her sound is not for everyone; this reviewer in particular was not terribly keen on her brand of raw vocals and basic lyrics, but respect is due – the actual music is well produced and solid.

But when Shout Out Louds took the stage, the audience knew who they had come to see. Adam Olenius, the group’s front man, looked as confident as can be when he launched the night off with ‘Sugar’, a track off their recently-released fourth album, Optica. The electric guitar riff at the start got the crowd excited, and the pop-riddled sound took care of the rest. The crowd swayed and tapped toes, smiling at the immensely simple but catchy progression of melodies. The night stayed on a pretty upbeat note, but it’s difficult to be morose when Shout Out Louds have such positive, fun and opportunistic songs.

Concertgoers and Shout Out Louds fans were treated to throwbacks from older albums, but it’s amazing to hear how little has changed in this band’s sound in the twelve years they’ve been together. They’ve been compared to The Cure for their penchant for smile-inducing songs and lyrics, and through the years, they’ve kept it up. An image of a group of kids going cross-country in the summer in their parents’ old car comes to mind, windows down and shouting lyrics to anthems like ‘The Comeback’ and ‘Illusions’. Although they hail from Sweden, these guys would not be out of place in southern California.

The set ended with the old school ‘Very Loud’, a perfect showcase of Olenius’s unique voice and the band’s formulaic song style that is anything but tired. Shout Out Louds gracefully returned to the cosy stage after a great uproar from the audience, and ‘Destroy’ was their weapon of choice. A six-minute track of ethereal sounds and synths with their surefire basic drums and rocker guitar, the song was just the right ending for fans.