Those chewy fish-shaped candies have new competition in the U.S. for biggest Swedish import: pop music. Contributing to this stateside invasion is Shout Out Louds, a band that released its sophomore album Our Ill Wills in the fall.
Lead singer Adam Olenius says the recent surge of Swedish music on an international audience first began in the nineties with better labels emerging, which led to better bands being signed. “It's hard to for me to say what exactly is special about it,” Olenius said. “What I like about the scene is that we’re not afraid of using pop melodies, but I like the contrast we use against those melodies with interesting production and experimenting with different song styles. Because it is such a small country, everyone is kind of working across genres and collaborating.”
Olenius even says it is not just the Stockholm scene that is thriving. There is a strong West Coast scene in Sweden as well, though “it’s not exactly a Tupac vs. Notorious B.I.G. thing.”
This camaraderie works in Shout Out Louds’ favor, as both albums were produced by Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn and John. “He just was around in Stockholm,” Olenius says. “The good thing about him is I can give him pieces, explain what I want to do and he can study it and put it together. You never have to explain too much for him to make it the way you want it.”
Yttling’s contribution is most prominent in the drums on Our Ill Wills. If you were a fan of Writer’s Block because of the rhythms, you are bound to enjoy this record for the same reasons. “Even from the way the mic sounds on the procession, we all had different ideas,” explains Olenius. “So we kind of took a whole box of all the different things we could find, laid them out on the floor and picked out which ones worked best for each song.”
Upon initial listen, Shout Out Louds might sound playful and poppy, but the lyrics have an austere disparity to the light-hearted melodies. “The first song I wrote, it just sort of came out that way,” Olenius says. “It is important that a song not have one direction. When we arrange and write the music, we try and have an instrument that contrasts another instrument.”
Shout Out Louds could easily be mistaken for a British or even American band; for some reason the Swedish accent does not translate to record. “I remember when we started the band, I really liked the way Neil Young sang,” says Olenius. “When you first start singing, it takes a while to find your voice. I’m happy now with this record. I think I’ve found it, but I do remember trying to be Neil Young playing an indie classic.”