November 13, 2007

2007 In The Rear-View: Shout Out Louds Blossom In "Hard Rain"

Shout Out Louds
As far as we're concerned there is only one more record coming out in 2007. It's called Arcs Across The City, it's by a little trio from Birmingham, England called Johnny Foreigner, and you might have seen us refer to it previously, oh, once or twice. We're taking the opportunity presented by the fading 2007 release schedule to look back on deserving records that we were unable to find time for earlier in the year. Soon 2007 will be over, but we expect these records will stick with us for a long time.

One of the bigger surprises of the late summer was just how strong Shout Out Louds' Our Ill Wills is. We got the Swedish pop quintet's prior release Howl Howl Gaff Gaff after seeing them perform on a late night show two or three years ago, and we thought there were a few very strong numbers on it (including "The Comeback," "Please Please Please" and "Hurry Up Let's Go"). And while the single "Tonight I Have To Leave It" that preceded and opens Our Ill Wills is an arresting pop concoction, as is the superlative New Romantic strummer "You Are Dreaming," we'd argue those tracks are pieces of a larger story. On a related note, we'd also argue that you could reverse the running order of Our Ill Wills and have an even more compelling record, as the album closer "Hard Rain" is the real highlight and points to incredibly fertile ground for the band to explore. So wait, scratch that: Our Ill Wills must end with "Hard Rain," and here is why.

While much of Our Ill Wills deals in bright colors and panoramic views, "Hard Rain" is a remarkable step beyond the power twee upon which Shout Out Louds built its reputation and into something darker and less certain. The seven-minute track is the most epic recording we've heard from Shout Out Louds, and easily the most sonically aggressive. Guitars shimmer and build in the wings, vocal lines tangle, the rhythm section is unstoppable (later the cowbell tattoo familiar from "Tonight We Have To Leave It" makes an appropriate thematic return, neatly bookending the record). And then the song crosses the four minute mark, past the odd chirp in the right channel at 4:20, and becomes unhinged. There commences a steady noisy crescendo that is spine-tingling and one of the most exciting things we heard from *any* act in 2007. We hope Shout Out Louds' next record uses the song as a jumping off point. Check out the IMeem stream of the track below. Merge released Our Ill Wills Sept. 11.

[buy Our Ill Wills from Newbury Comics here]

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1 comment:

mgrooves said...

that song is in my top 3 list for the year. it rules.

it was produced by bjorn from peter, bjorn and john. that guy knows how to make magic out of a little echo and a sultry girl's voice.

"hard rain" is the dark side of "young folks," minus the whistling. great stuff.