Four albums in and Shout Out Louds have taken the time to polish their strain of saccharin, synth-driven, dream pop. Behind Optica is a band with confidence in their sound, certainly more so than previously heard on albums such as 2010’s Work.
The album follows the typically Scandinavian habit of sounding clean and crisp, yet Optica has a sincere level of emotion that saves more electronic tracks, ‘Hermila’ and ‘Circles’, from sounding too stark and lifeless. This is an unmistakably pop album, yet the influence of the darker 1980s sound reminiscent of The Cure is apparent along with New Wave inspiration from The Human League. There is also plenty of reference to modern indie pop bands like The Drums too.
Adam Olenius and Bebban Steenborg provide the romantic dual vocals heard throughout the album. The former provides deeper and forlorn lead vocals that lend an introspective, ‘shy-guy’ quality reminiscent of early We Are Scientists tracks, whilst the latter’s breathy, plaintive undertones bring a pleasant contrast that will be familiar to fans of the Drive soundtrack. The emotion-driven lyrics lead the listener on a journey through the eyes of two unsure lovers and, combined with the wavering synths on ‘Blue Ice’, evoke a prom hall scene, complete with awkward slow-dancing under the glittering cloak of mirrorballs.
The optimistic, jangly guitar mixed with moody synth pop would be well-placed accompanying a long shot of sun-soaked driving on open highways. From start to finish, Optica plays like a summery 80’s mixtape: expect to hear echoes in a trendy clothing shop soon.
Words: Lauren James