The zipper, the propeller, dynamite, Alfred Nobel and the Nobel prize, Saab vehicles, a certain thick-accented chef who hangs with Jim Henson’s gang, and a man by the name of Johan Petter Johansson (Yes YO-han Yo-hansson) whom without we would exist wrench-less. Plus, who could forget that cute little man from the IKEA commercials? Beyond these amazing people and inventions, studies have proven through intense statistic configuration that Sweden is totally sweet. Never before has Swedish rock let us down, and that remains true today. The Sounds is their name and rockin’ you hard is their game, but not without a synthesizer. With influences such as Blondie, Duran Duran, Germany’s Kraftwerk, and Ultravox, a synth-pop sound is to be expected, and what a delight it turned out to be.
Their first album, Living in America debuted at #4 on the Swedish album charts and the band began touring the USA in March of 2003. This August, The Sounds will wrap up their first Warped Tour. That’s right, punk rockers like The Sounds. I consider myself at least half-punk rocker so it is with authority that I present them in this genre, though they are perhaps not your everyday hardcore punk rock. The Sounds are punk the way the B-52’s are punk, inadvertently. Old School and New wave punks alike can appreciate the fast pace and powerful female vocals. The lyrics appeal to both sides of punk; heated, emotional outraged cries, in addition to the lighthearted, “dance with me” ballads. One of my favorite aspects of their songs is their tendency to have very thought provoking verses with very catchy light choruses; it gives the music an illusion of simplicity and rewards those who pay closer attention.
The band has an air of 80’s triumph about them that makes for a pleasing personal soundtrack. I’ve found that no matter what the situation, listening to this album blends in. It’s a summer day, thirty degrees hotter than the sun, I’m driving down the road in a loud old beater blasting “We’re not living in America, but we’re not sorry!!” At a gathering some friends and I with beers and video games hear, “Hit me hard! Hit me right between the eyes! I wanna see the stars! Hit me! HIT ME!!” Whether alone or in a group, The Sounds add amplification to any occasion.
Where would we be without Sweden? There would be a lot less affordable, functional furniture; and what about those famous meatballs? Certainly we have a lot to thank Sweden for, especially the day-to-day things. In the case of The Sounds we can show gratitude for their gift of narration and displaying the mood.
Blondie- Parallel Lines
Duran Duran- Duran Duran
The Rapture- Echoes