Shout Out Louds – Our Ill Wills

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

The whole point of this (dumb, dumb, dumb) project is to examine exactly what it is that appeals to me about each album and band in my collection. But sometimes, the unexamined album is still worth listening to. Or something. I don’t really feel like thinking about Shout Out Louds and Our Ill Wills. Or more to the point, I am not sure there is much to be gained from thinking much about them. Focusing on the lyrics, for example, gets you nowhere, as they often do not make sense, though the line “you and I are rats at Cupid’s table” is one I’ll have to remember if I ever find that special someone. True, they are not singing in their native language but it’s fairly patronizing to suggest the band doesn’t know or can’t do better. I just think they like the way these words sound. And I have to agree. I like the way the words sound and if I read the lyrics, the effort only detracts from the experience. Similarly, I could mix and match with the Cure all day, but why? I want to take this album at face value and just enjoy it for what it is.

What I Think of This Album

Despite the explicit Smiths reference on “Meat Is Murder,” Shout Out Louds once again turn to the Cure for inspiration, as amply demonstrated by Adam Olenious’s puppy dog vocals and the unmistakable Head On the Door-era elements (particularly on opener “Tonight I Have to Leave It,” with its classically Boris Williams drum pattern). This is not a criticism – it works and I like it. In fact, this sophomore album only suffers in comparison to the debut because we know what’s coming this time.

That’s not entirely true, actually. This album deemphasizes the guitars and producer Björn Yttling (Peter, Bjorn and John) instead dresses things up with an abundance of strings and guest contributions from the likes of bandmate John Erickson and Lykke Li Zachrisson. And the tone is significantly gloomier this time. But the strings and the moroseness don’t make this a weaker album, just a darker one.

So this time we get the aural equivalent of sour patch worms:  colorful, bright, and addictive, but with loneliness and sadness at their core. This is best reflected in highlights like sophisticated “Impossible,” with its impressive percussion flourishes, bouncy keyboard line (more Cure) and harmony vocals, and the aforementioned “Tonight.” Similarly, “Normandie” sounds like “Close To Me” on vacation north of the Arctic Circle. And “Time Left for Love” tells a muddled story of catastrophic vehicular death that I think is supposed to be a reminder to love early and often, but whatever – it sounds cool, especially that piano part.

There are some nice surprises, too, such as Bebban Stenborg’s lead vocal turn on “Blue Headlights,” which she wrote (including the “rats at Cupid’s table” line) and which shuffles nicely and features a pristine piano part. Almost title track “Ill Wills” is a delicate, sweet Instrumental. And “Hard Rain” almost borders on lite psychedelia at times.

The Best Thing About This Album

Rhyming “serial killer” with “Caterpillar” (as in, the heavy machinery, not the arthropod).

Release Date

April, 2007 (Sweden); May 2007 (Europe); September, 2007 (U.S)

The Cover Art

Pretty good. The nautical flags (sorry, I mean the international maritime signal flags) spell out the band’s name and then the album title.

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