wears the trousers magazine


the sounds: crossing the rubicon (2009)
August 19, 2009, 9:00 am
Filed under: album, mp3, review, video | Tags: , , , , ,

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The Sounds
Crossing The Rubicon •••½
Original Signal / Universal 

As any Fiona Apple fan should know, to “cross the Rubicon” (a river in northern Italy) is to pass the point of no return. Does this then mean that The Sounds consider that they can’t get any better than their third album of the same name? Or are the Swedish five-piece making a reference to the phrase’s original association with Caesar, who made a confirmed act of war through his movement across this 29 kilometre long stretch of water more than 2000 years ago? Perhaps a subtle political statement, but probably more likely a declaration of their intent to launch their own new assault on the music-buying public. In a good way, of course.

The latter statement becomes an increasingly obvious option after hearing album opener, recent single and undisputed standout, ‘No One Sleeps When I’m Awake’, its strong personality instantly commanding attention, complemented by the band’s trademark synth-based New Wave-aping sound, which, despite still allowing lazy comparisons to Blondie, present a winning and familiar formula. Maja Ivarsson’s strong vocals carry a carefree air that, combined with gloriously bouncy melodies, create a potent force that often comes enticingly close to real pop perfection. It’s easy to see why The Sounds have already won themselves an army of fans – including Dave Grohl and Pharrell Williams – and one could hardly hope for an audience more seemingly different.

Thus demonstrating how well their music translates across both a specialist and commercial audience, the band put their success down to a support coming from such word-of-mouth endorsement, although on this side of the Atlantic we are still wondering what happened after ‘Tony The Beat’. Nevertheless, the band seem to have remained positive about their apparent lack of appeal on British soil. “There’s so much more than this / when you know who you are,” Ivarsson urges during the hopeful ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’, the near culmination of a collection that displays a wonderful use of melody and upbeat optimism that brighter Scandinavians seem to master so well.

Sure, maybe The Sounds should have taken a few more risks and waded a bit further into the unknown, and perhaps that’s what’s in store next time if the promise of the more atmospheric treatment given to the title track, wherein the comparatively generic early ’80s kitsch is replaced by searing guitars and layered vocals, is anything to go by. Crossing The Rubicon might not go down in history as a watershed event, but what it lacks in depth it makes up for in abundant hooks. Much more pleasant than drowning anyway.

Anna Claxton
UK release date: 02/06/09; www.myspace.com/thesounds

 

FREE MP3: The Sounds, ‘Dorchester Hotel’

 

‘No One Sleeps When I’m Awake’


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[…] the sounds: crossing the rubicon (2009) « wears the trousers magazine The Sounds Crossing The Rubicon •••½. Original Signal / Universal. As any Fiona Apple fan should know, to “cross the Rubicon” (a river in northern Italy) is to pass the point of no return. Does this then mean that The Sounds consider […]

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