Shout Out Louds: Work

B+

Shout Out Louds

Album: Work
Label: Merge

On 2007’s Our Ill Wills, the Swedish indie-rockers in Shout Out Louds did their best impression of a bargain-store Cure, wrapping deep woe in tinny effervescence. Three years later, on Work, Shout Out Louds have Built To Spill/Shins producer Phil Ek pumping up the sound, and while the third album is beefier, it still traffics in the mid-’80s version of British post-punk, where the sentiments remain dark even as the music turns bright and sparkly. Where Shout Out Louds used to sound a little stymied by the options of what kind of band to be (hence the retreat into the past), Work finds them owning their sound, and treating the nostalgic pangs they stir as a platform from which to express something sincere. The result is a record a little less giddy and more workmanlike than prior SOL albums, but when frontman Adam Olenius sings “This is who I ever was and always been” over the driving “1999,” or confesses “Whatever they say, we’re the ones building walls” in the soaring “Walls,” his newfound maturity and self-awareness is bracing. And when, in the promissory “Fall Hard,” Olenius insists “let it break… I’ll pick up the pieces,” he comes up with a romantic anthem as good as any of Shout Out Louds’ influences.