Shout Out Louds could have been just another casualty of the sophomore slump. Their second album, 2007's Our Ill Wills, was met with a tepid reception by fans and critics, who criticized it for being overproduced and lifting too heavily from bands like the Cure.
Those complaints have been silenced with Work, the Swedish band's triumphant return to form. Shout Out Louds have never sounded this driven and vital, thanks to some captivating, no-nonsense arrangements and Phil Ek's gleaming production.
San Diegans will get to experience instant classics like "Fall Hard," "Moon" and "Show Me Something New" on May 22, when the rejuvenated band joins OK Go for an afternoon show at the House of Blues (tickets can be purchased here).
We sat down with multi-instrumentalist Bebban Stenborg to discuss Shout Out Louds' revamped approach.
SoundDiego: Work is a kind of course correction for the band. What was it that made you want to change directions?
Bebban Stenborg: We don’t think of it as a change of direction as much as a return back to where we came from. We are one of those bands that has never traded off any band members or done extracurricular touring with other people, and we wanted to make that known through our music this time. On Our Ill Wills, there was a lot of cutting and pasting; that’s how [that album's producer] Björn Yttling works, and we were intrigued by that type of creative process. It was all good at the time, but it did take away from the unified experience we were used to, and that’s why we turned to Phil on this one.
SoundDiego: Phil Ek has produced some of rock's best bands in recent years: the Shins, Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, the Dodos and Pretty Girls Make Graves. What was it about his production style that made you want to work with him?
Bebban Stenborg: We are all great fans -- mainly of his older recordings with Built to Spill and the Shins -- but more than anything, we knew that one of his strongest points is working with actual bands, the way it used to be done. Looking for the perfect live take and rigging drums for days -- that sort of thing.
SoundDiego: When the band got together to rehearse for the new album, there was a lot of discussion as to what the album should not sound like. What were some of the things you tried to avoid?
Bebban Stenborg: Boogie-woogie and anything with vampires. We were about 97 percent successful.
SoundDiego: Will there be a fourth Shout Out Louds album?
Bebban Stenborg: I’d be greatly surprised if there wasn’t.