12 Songs, 44 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Sometimes it takes an infectious pop group from Sweden to alert U.S. listeners that there’s still plenty of mileage left in ‘80s-style synth-pop and guitar-pulsing new wave. And it takes a charismatic singer like Maja Ivarsson to make it fun. Ivarsson sings like a leader with no agenda other than to get people up and dancing. While the album opener, “Shake Shake Shake,” might be a literal expression of that ambition, songs like the guitar-leading “Take It the Wrong Way” and the synth dreampop of “Hurt the Ones I Love” continue the streak with melodies that flow down the ear canal. When it’s time to come across as vulnerable, she and her band bring us the reflective pillow-sobbing “Weekend,” where the synths are the only ones getting away with too much fun. Lest someone think The Sounds could actually be laid low, they return with “Great Day”: another ingenious guitar-synth blend that imagines what Blondie might have been if they'd had another decade left in them.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Sometimes it takes an infectious pop group from Sweden to alert U.S. listeners that there’s still plenty of mileage left in ‘80s-style synth-pop and guitar-pulsing new wave. And it takes a charismatic singer like Maja Ivarsson to make it fun. Ivarsson sings like a leader with no agenda other than to get people up and dancing. While the album opener, “Shake Shake Shake,” might be a literal expression of that ambition, songs like the guitar-leading “Take It the Wrong Way” and the synth dreampop of “Hurt the Ones I Love” continue the streak with melodies that flow down the ear canal. When it’s time to come across as vulnerable, she and her band bring us the reflective pillow-sobbing “Weekend,” where the synths are the only ones getting away with too much fun. Lest someone think The Sounds could actually be laid low, they return with “Great Day”: another ingenious guitar-synth blend that imagines what Blondie might have been if they'd had another decade left in them.

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About The Sounds

The Sounds -- a Swedish group whose poppy, synthesizer-heavy music is unapologetically indebted to Blondie and Missing Persons -- feature the coed talents of vocalist Maja Ivarsson, keyboardist Jesper Anderberg, bassist Johan Bengtsson, drummer Fredrik Nilsson, and guitarist Felix Rodriguez. The new wave throwbacks first banded together in 1999 in Stockholm, where they recorded much of the debut album Living in America. The record charted at number four the week after its Swedish release in 2002, and an American release followed in May 2003. Dying to Say This to You appeared three years later, featuring a polished blend of anthemic, '80s-inspired rock and sex-crazed new wave that widened the band's audience abroad.

Touring obligations kept the Sounds busy until October 2007, at which time they returned to the studio with a string of producers, including Mark Saunders (who had recently worked with the Sounds' touring mates, Shiny Toy Guns), Fountains of Wayne founder Adam Schlesinger, and former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha. The Sounds also extricated themselves from their previous record contract, preferring to blaze their own path instead. Recording sessions for the group's third studio effort, Crossing the Rubicon, took place in Sweden, Los Angeles, and New York, and the resulting album was released in June 2009. The band spent the better part of 2009 touring the album, even nabbing a supporting slot with No Doubt. In 2011 the Sounds released their fourth studio effort, Something to Die For, featuring the single "Better Off Dead." Two years later, the Sounds returned with their fifth studio album, Weekend, which included the title track single and the song "Shake Shake Shake." ~ Andy Kellman & Andrew Leahey

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