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Say what you will about some of the biggest songs of the 1980s — go ahead and badmouth electric pianos, and by all means bemoan the prevailing production quality — but the decade continues to cast a long shadow over popular music. Given its enduring popularity on dance floors and on radios, not to mention the rise of '80s-emulating singers like Gotye, you could do far worse than look to that decade for tips on connecting with audiences.
Which brings us around to Optica, the new fourth album by the Swedish band Shout Out Louds, and particularly its song "Illusions." Listening to it in 2013, it's as if someone traveled back in time 30 years and slipped The Thompson Twins the biggest hit of their career, and now a young band is tapping into our shared nostalgia by rehashing a hit that's somehow been lodged in our memory banks all along. "Illusions" may be brand-new, but it already feels eternal.
Particularly in its first half, Optica (out Feb. 26) plays like a marvelous '80s mixtape, albeit one with modern production values and a good deal of subtlety. The references aren't all pop, either — the album-opening "Sugar" sounds like The Cure's Robert Smith stepping in to lead The Smiths — but the results, in all their sweet and sunny glory, invariably chime and shine.
- Shout Out Louds perform in The Current studios Sometimes, fate places a bunch of musically inclined children together. Occasionally, those kids grow up to become bands, and sometimes one of those bands turn out like Shout Out Louds.
- Shout Out Louds perform in The Current studio Shout Out Louds are a band originally from Stockholm, Sweden. They've known each other since they were youngsters and started playing together in 2001. "Our Ill Wills" is their latest release and the first on their new label Merge Records.
- The Shout Out Louds perform in studio The members of the Swedish group have known each other since they were young kids, but it's only since 2001 that they've been in a band. They joined Mark Wheat in the Current studios to perform songs from their debut record, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff.
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