Shout Out Louds
Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
ands keep telling us to do shit, like clap our hands and say “yeah.” Having recently released Howl Howl Gaff Gaff stateside, these Swedes want us to shout out loud, and it’s perfectly reasonable request: In spite of ostensibly inhibiting too-tight pants, the Shout Out Louds rocked to surprising degrees of awesomeness on a recent tour with The Dears. Lead singer and guitarist Adam Olenius inhabited the stage like an indier Jason Schwartzman and, rhetorical question here, who—straight females, gay guys included—couldn’t take their eyes off of ridiculously good looking blonde keyboardist vixen, Bebban Stenborg? Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, originally released on Swedish label Bud Fox Recordings in October 2003, comes to the States on Capitol, missing a couple songs, with others in their place (including a couple off 2004’s EP Oh Sweetheart). The resultant album, like Eve plucked from Adam’s side, plays like its precursor improved—concise, endearing, and far more agreeable.
For better or for worse, it’s the same Shout Out Louds—Olenius sings like Bono, quivers like Win Butler, and emotes with the “best” of them (Chris Carraba, for one, most evidently on “Very Loud” when he sings “Hear me cry w-hy-hy,” well, whiningly). While the exclusion of “My Friend And The Ink On His Fingers,” an infectious little ditty in the tradition of Superchunk’s uber-doomed “The First Part” (Olenius sounds close to death when he croons: “What more can I do when I’m thinking of you?”), initially seems a let down, it grows apparent that the song’s exemption is a wholly appropriate step in the right direction. The Shout Out Louds are most annoying when their mostly-endearing lovelorn shtick turns ultra-loser—when it becomes super-clear that Olenius is no Rivers Cuomo circa 1994, and there’s little to no charm in some Stockholm hipster waxing pathetic. Shit is boring. Still, while “Please Please Please” probably lacks the beautifully tragic chutzpah of The Smiths’ “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want,” it’s because they’re different songs. It works precisely because Olenius has loved and lost (“Please please please come back to me,” he sings), where Morissey, like pre-Green Rivers, just lost. A lot. Howl Howl Gaff Gaff succeeds most when its peppy flashback garage pop is justified, when Olenius’ lyrics display evidence of love’s highs and lows—heartbreak and giddy infatuation in one bittersweet fell swoop. It’s when playing up Olenius’ bipolar “I’m happy oh so happy, but then I’m always sad,” the Shout Out Louds do way better than, say, an oversexed, post-Pinkerton Rivers (though, admittedly, it isn’t hard to do). All in all, sure, the U.S. release, appropriately pared down, takes a step in the right direction. But when Olenius washes his hands of his oft-pathetic pop flotsam, “There are songs that never should be written/ there are words that never should be said/ But there’s nothing I can do about it,” it kind of makes you wish he’d been pickier with songs written and words said, and ultimately done something about it.
Reviewed by: Rachel Khong
Reviewed on: 2005-07-27