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#albumoftheday REVIEW: THE SOUNDS: WEEKEND

Recorded in their native Sweden, The Sounds fifth album, Weekend, was produced, engineered and mixed by Alex Newport (At the Drive-In, Mars Volta, Bloc Party, Death Cab For Cutie, City & Colour) and mastered by Howie Weinberg, who has previously mastered such iconic albums as Beastie Boys’ Licence to Ill and Nirvana’s Nevermind.

It’s hard to believe this is The Sounds’ fifth album already, considering that their debut, Living in America, was only released in 2002. That’s five albums in 11 years. Many artists would only release one or two albums in that much time. Hell, Aerosmith and Cher went longer than that in between original studio albums. Suffice to say The Sounds, who tour frequently, are one of the hardest-working and most inspired bands on the planet.

I would describe The Sounds’ first two albums, Living in America and Dying To Say This To You, as rock with hints of pop, punk and new wave. But they shifted slightly more in the pop direction with their third, Crossing The Rubicon, and then their next album, Something To Die For was even more pop with some tracks, like “Better Off Dead” and “Something To Die For,” that you could even dance to. To my ears, it sounded like many of the tracks on Something To Die For used drum machines and/or programmed beats along with some their usual live drums. The Sounds’ new album, Weekend, finds them returning to their rock roots. At their core, the songs are still in the pop vein, but the music of these tracks seems to simply consist of guitars, bass, drums and keyboards. Suffice to say that Weekend sounds rather stripped back when compared to Something To Die For, which is surely intentional as the band was seeking to recreate their live sound on the record.

To be honest, I loved Something To Die For and my favorite tracks were the danceable singles. So, initially, I was disappointed that Weekend was more like their first two albums. Still, I was a fan of those albums, as well as their last two, and I kept listening to it. Sure enough, it’s proved to be quite the grower and I would say I like it almost as much as Something To Die For at this point.

Although I wouldn’t call it a concept album, Weekend is definitely a feel good record. It sometimes strives to help the listener chill out and sometimes seeks to motivate the listener to party. Suffice to say that Weekend is the perfect album title and not just because the album includes a song with said title. However you wish to spend your weekend, this album promises to provide a superb soundtrack.

The album opens with the up-tempo “Shake Shake Shake,” a highly infectious tune with a slick and thick bass guitar line that dominates the mix. At its core, it’s a rock song, but you could certainly dance to it. In fact, I dare you sit still while listening to it. It’ll have you bouncing in your seat. The sugary sweet sucker just commands you to move and you won’t mind at all.

Seductive bass guitar continues to dominate the mix during many of the tracks on Weekend, including its rocker of a second track, “Take It The Wrong Way.” This one starts off relatively mid-tempo, but kicks things up a notch or three during the energetic chorus.

The band’s affection for new wave music shines through on “Hurt the Ones I Love” with its bursts of radiant synth, which they mesh with indie rock vibes with more than pleasant results. “Panic” has a distinct new wave vibe, too, with its synthesized strings and funky bass guitar line.

“Great Day” begins with something you don’t hear much of in The Sounds’ music: acoustic guitars. “It’s a great day to be alive,” Maja Ivarsson sings warmly over and over again for the song’s melodious chorus.

“If you’re wondering what it’s like to be me / I live for the weekend baby,” goes the chorus of “Weekend,” a down-tempo ballad that you can easily picture teenagers slow-dancing to at a school dance. Then again, it’s a rather melancholic tune that’s probably best listened to when simply chilling out, especially if you’ve got the blues.

Regardless of what style of music they’re making, The Sounds always deliver excellent albums and seem incapable of writing a bad song. If you already like the band, this album gives you 11 reasons to like them even more. And if you’ve never checked them out, I should think it would make for a very pleasant introduction.

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Written by

Paris365

An entertainment journalist for 20 years, Michael McCarthy was a columnist and contributing editor for the magazines Lollipop and LiveWire. He co-created and wrote for Cinezine, one of the '90's most popular movie E-zines. The only time he's not listening to music is when he's watching television shows and movies or reading, usually music magazines.

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