A lot of people will know Shout Out Louds for their appearance on the soundtrack of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. You know, that film where Michael Cera plays a slightly awkward band member who gets with the quirky girl. The track featured was Very Loud from their first album Howl Howl Gaff Gaff. Luckily for all concerned the band have come a long way since then, and Optica sounds a million light years ahead, but with the kind of nostalgic undertones which make it instantly enjoyable.
Opening track Sugar comes swinging out like Six Different Ways by The Cure covered by The Shins. It’s the perfect way to start out, and feels like it would fit the opening credits of any coming of age film. It’s so sweet in fact with its half time horn section outro it could cause diabetes.
Illusions has a similar feel, a jaunty 80’s call and response thing between frontman Adam Olenius and Bebban Stenborg. This gives way to the softer Blue Ice, a song which may well represent the first hardship a character faces. The whole thing automatically fits the cinema analogy. There’s a song for every scene, but in a very John Hughes sense.
14th Of July starts with a very The Edge guitar piece which gives way to the disco bounce of drums and bass riff. It’s the exact pick me up needed after Blue Ice, and sets a nice precedent for the following tracks. Burn starts softly on a guitar riff and builds momentum and instrumentation throughout. Walking In Your Footsteps features an underlying piano piece similar to Animal by Miike Snow but accompanied by a floating bit of woodwind, an entirely underused presence on modern indie albums. It also represents the first single to be released from the album.
The next track, Glasgow, sounds nothing like Glasgow and more like Stockholm fortunately and is followed by stand out Where You Come In which yearns for pining at a rain splattered window, and accompanied by a montage of times gone by. It’s a song built upon loss and desire. In fact the whole album seems to have been constructed to address that balance.
Chasing The Sinking Sun, Circles and Destroy make up the final three of Optica, and demonstrate the key differences in style of tracks. The first is the driving dance, the second is the wholesome desire and the last is the melancholy yearning. If anything the album works in reverse, starting out with the most uplifting and startling track and ending with something thoroughly more downbeat.
As a collective and coming in at just under the hour mark Optica is a truly brilliant piece of work, and worthy of the time it has taken for Shout Out Louds to produce it. It instantly resonates with anyone who has been there, and felt something. It’s an album for people to embrace, if only they can take the time to give it a chance.
From a personal stand point I would stake a claim in it now as one of my albums of 2013.