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The Soundtrack Of Our Lives: Origin Vol. 1

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The Soundtrack Of Our Lives

Album: Origin Vol. 1
Label: Republic/Universal

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Origin Vol. 1 is meant to be The Soundtrack Of Our Lives' defining statement on the awesome, shadowy power of rock 'n' roll, as wielded by a band that likes its bottom heavy, its beat free, and its spirit floating through the cosmos. It's a bloated record stuffed with songs like "Transcendental Suicide," which features Ebbot Lundberg's raspy shout over a wall of screechy guitars and a tumbling, clattering rhythm. The Soundtrack Of Our Lives frequently sounds like it's trying too hard, but that's partly the point. This is rock as pure, mind-blowing force, and it connects like a haymaker more than once. On "Bigtime," a speedy bassline and a call-and-response vocal fuses the metallic purity of Motörhead, the punk gospel of Fugazi, and the "we're higher than you'll ever be" enormity of Pink Floyd, while "Heading For A Breakdown" jangles as happily and percussively as the tambourine bopping away in its background.

At the same time, there's something over-mannered about Origin Vol. 1. Song titles like "Midnight Children" and "Royal Explosion (Part II)" have a smirkily nostalgic edge, no matter how sincere the band intends them. The Soundtrack Of Our Lives first gained serious attention in the U.S. as part of the wave of Swedish garage rock that hit a couple of years ago, and like The Hives, Sahara Hotnights, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, and Division Of Laura Lee, Soundtrack sounds astonishingly good one song at a time, and surprisingly dull over the course of a full record. Origin Vol. 1 contains too many wonders to dismiss—the darkly sunny "Lone Summer Dream" is reason alone to give the disc its due—but the more ambitious and expansive the band gets, the harder it is to hear the hooks beneath the billow.