Theyâve blasted past the decade mark, released three acclaimed albums, and indisputably owned more than a thousand shows in over 25 countries. By now, people know: When it comes to sassy, confident, feel–good rock ânâ roll Swedenâs The Sounds are the gold standard. Even as theyâve evolved markedly since their 2002 breakthrough debut, Living In America, the MalmÃ¶–based quintet has remained true to their New Wave soul, delivering that perfect mix of sass and smarts, old and new, electric and electronic every time. Even through label shakeups and grueling tour schedules, The Sounds have been remarkably reliable, but when it came time to make their fourth album, Something To Die For, they realized it was time for a major change.
âWeâve grown so much together and we know exactly what we want,â says Felix Rodriguez, the groupâs resident rock star, guitarist, and one of the main songwriters. âSo why hire other people– This is the first time weâve produced an album ourselves and it was an amazing experience. We are the ones that know each other best.â While The Soundsâ last two albums – Dying To Say This To You (2006) and Crossing The Rubicon (2009) – were recorded Stateside with a handful of talented producers on board (including Jeff Saltzman, Mark Saunders, James Iha, and Adam Schlesinger), Something To Die For is one hundred percent The Sounds. Not only did the band produce the album themselves, but they wrote and recorded it in their very own studio over much of 2010.
âIt took discipline,â says Maja Ivarsson, the towheaded vocal vamp of the band, âbut the sound we got was exactly what weâd been looking for, and never found, at other studios. Something kinda harsh and a little cold – itâs hard to put into words, but here we were, in our own place, listening back to what weâd recorded, and weâre like, âThis is it!ââ From opener âItâs So Easy,â the difference is palpable. With four on the floor, the band bangs out a pulsing track that goes from ominous to blindingly bright as it approaches the transcendent âDance With The Devil.â Here, Maja promises to âconquer our planet with dance,â and with anthemic, electro–fueled tracks like âBetter Off Deadâ and âYeah Yeah Yeah,â The Sounds may do just that.
âWeâve been interested in electronic music from the beginning,â says Jesper Anderberg, keyboardist, guitarist and other main writer. âThatâs actually why a lot of us started playing music, and we wanted to emphasize that a bit more this time.â When most of the group came together in 1998 as high school students in Helsingborg, they were âclub kidsâ says Felix. Rounded out by bassist Johan Bengtsson and drummer Fredrik Blond, The Sounds have always displayed a healthy respect for bombastic synths and propulsive beats, but on Something To Die For, the feeling is bigger, broader and bolder. Of course, the same could be said about the bandâs rocking side.
Songs like âDianaâ show off The Soundsâ undeniable penchant for playful post–punk, while âThe No No Songâ is pure rock–pop rave–up, with Maja spitting vitriol through a vicious sneer: âIt didnât matter to you when it felt so right /And now you lost it all, well youâre not so bright.â All of it comes together perfectly on the titular song and album centerpiece, âSomething To Die Forâ where, over the course of five and a half minutes, Jarre–like atmosphere dissolves into a speaker–crushing thump that climaxes in a winning collision of red hot guitars and icy keyboards. âItâs all about passion and dedication,â says Maja. âThatâs what the title means –– itâs something to be proud of, something to stand up for â¦ something to die for.â
After all of this fabulous bluster, Something To Die For comes to a surprisingly quiet close with âWish You Were Here.â Over a rolling, folksy acoustic guitar, Maja coos, âGive me your hand and weâll go somewhere.â The truth is, The Sounds had us in their palms from the very first note.
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