Swedish indie rockers Shout Out Louds took their time with creating their fourth album, spending a year and a half recording in Stockholm, writing and working on parts individually first, and then coming together as a five-piece to create Optica. It’s probably the reason the album’s songs are expansive, surprising and well thought-out, yet not too dense or sporadic.
Most of the tracks on Optica have great dancey, head-bobbing melodies, which isn’t surprising to existing fans or anyone who knows anything about the band. Their songs have been featured on hit shows such as The O.C. and in several movies, including a prestigious place on the soundtrack of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. This style is heard immediately on opener “Sugar,” an up-tempo, synthy yet still nostalgic jam: “Since I was young / Sugar on my tongue / But I can feel the taste of it / In the notion filling words, I’m lost.”
“Blue Ice” sounds a little like a track The National might make—which is a good thing. Between the piano and frontman Adam Olenius’ soothing vocals, it’s a nice calm song.
Differences in style appear often, particularly when comparing back-to-back tracks “Diamonds” and “Glasgow.” Olenius gets vocal help from fellow bandmate (and the band’s only female member) Bebban Stenborg on the experimental track “Diamonds,” as they sing together over what sounds like a flute and several other various miscellaneous noises; and “Glasgow,” a mystifying song and the longest track on the album at seven minutes, retains the synth heard throughout the album while also emulating the calmer style of “Blue Ice.”
It’s hard to allow Optica to leave a foul taste in your mouth. No, it’s not a genius musical breakthrough, but it’s okay because most listeners aren’t looking for genius. There are plenty of good tracks here to add to a summer playlist.