20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Shout Out Louds’ Work by crumblymuffin
February 23, 2010, 11:06 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: ,

Shout Out Louds work could cause speeding tickets

PREVIEW: VISIT Shout Out Louds’ MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

After finally getting a car up to Syracuse this semester, I find myself stuck behind the wheel more and more often.  Maybe it’s just the pull of moving quickly from point to point, or maybe it’s that American concept of freedom on the open road.  Either way, it’s led to me listening to way more music as of late, and at way louder volumes.  Thank god, or else I might never have blasted “1999,” the lead track off Work at full volume on the drive between Buffalo and home.  There’s something about Shout Out Louds that works with driving, and this album is no different, especially late at night chasing the shadows from headlights up ahead.

The band’s definitely tightened up their sound over the past few releases, and this might be the album that finally breaks them to a wider audience.  Songcraft is at a premium here– no guitar line goes neglected, no synth line is wasted, and every piece is carefully calculated out to create beautiful soundscapes that lead singer Adam Olenius’s softly delivered lyrics of heartbreak, secrecy and distance.  It’s some of the most triumphantly defeated music you can get your hands on, and is one of the few albums as of late that feels like a “full album.”

While the collection’s a bit frontloaded, with the strongest tracks “1999,” “Fall Hard” and “Walls” falling within the first four songs of the album, no song lags too heavily on downtempo trappings or melodrama, instead pushing forward into new territory, and past into beautiful moments of clarity.  “Show Me Something New” catches you off guard deep in the tracklisting, and before you can catch your breath, the album’s over.  It’s a bit of a rush, but definitely doesn’t disappoint either.

As I listened in my car this past weekend, I lost track of myself for a few moments.  When I looked down, I realized I had been driving 95 miles an hour.  Not to blame the band, but it definitely seems fitting to speed to parts of this album, almost as if all the sadness and the melancholy of Olenius’s voice is an excuse to try and outrace our own.  It’s a beautiful concept, but leaves you a bit wide open when the album ends and you’re left with a speeding ticket.  Either way, you have that memory of flying, and maybe that’s the best part.

— Dan Creahan

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