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POP MUSIC REVIEW

New Wave for the '05 crowd

November 21, 2005|Steve Appleford | Special to The Times

Not all pop music will change your life. The Shout Out Louds will settle for some real moments of sadness or joy within swirling, atmospheric pop tunes: songs like the modest radio jingle "The Comeback" and other catchy melodies from the band's spirited U.S. debut, "Howl Howl Gaff Gaff."

This is music with roots in '80s New Wave but with a flair for keeping things contemporary. Nostalgia isn't the issue. At the Troubadour on Friday, the Swedish five-piece cranked up the fog machine for an hourlong headlining set of frantic, jangly jams and songs of tainted love as fresh as your neighborhood's newest garage rockers.

Guitarist-vocalist Adam Olenius sang with an urgent delivery of raspy shouts and cries, with words you couldn't quite make out without a lyric sheet, although the simple message of his lovelorn, hopeful songs was clear enough. And there were times (especially on "Oh, Sweetheart") when those vocals and his sad-eyed stare approached the same cool desperation perfected by the Cure's Robert Smith, minus the Goth threads.

On Friday, the Shout Out Louds were more wall of sound than the sharply defined arrangements of the album, but the result was no less inviting and upbeat. Keyboardist Bebban Stenborg managed to cut through the fog with some crucial accents on "A Track and a Train," occasionally picking up an accordion elsewhere.

Pop built from equal parts heavy and light is nothing new, even from Stockholm, where members of the Shouts first began their collaborations in 2000. It's unlikely to change the world. Just your mood.

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