About The Sounds
Swedish new wave revivalists the Sounds deliver shimmering, synth-washed rock that is unapologetically indebted to pop-savvy, punk-leaning '80s acts like Blondie and Missing Persons. They made their major breakthrough in 2002 with their debut, Living in America, which was a hit in both their native Sweden and across the Atlantic. Subsequent 2000s efforts -- 2006's Dying to Say This to You and 2009's Crossing the Rubicon -- maintained their chart presence across Europe, bolstered by singles such as "No One Sleeps When I'm Awake" and "Song with a Mission." With each release, the dance beats and production polish intensified, exemplified on their 2011 electro/synth pop fourth effort, Something to Die For. While the rest of the 2010s remained relatively quiet for the group, they recaptured their spirit at the start of the next decade with 2020's Things We Do for Love.
Featuring the talents of vocalist Maja Ivarsson, keyboardist Jesper Anderberg, bassist Johan Bengtsson, drummer Fredrik Nilsson, and guitarist Felix Rodriguez, the new wave throwbacks first banded together in 1999 in Stockholm, where they recorded much of their debut album, Living in America. The platinum record charted at number four the week after its Swedish release in 2002, and an American release followed in May 2003, breaking them in the U.S. on the strength of MTV-favored singles "Living in America" and "Rock & Roll." Sophomore effort Dying to Say This to You arrived three years later, featuring a polished blend of anthemic, '80s-inspired rock and new wave that further widened the band's audience abroad. Charting just outside Top 100 on the Billboard 200, the set featured hit singles "Song with a Mission" and U.K. club favorite "Tony the Beat (Push It)."
Touring obligations kept the Sounds busy until October 2007, at which time they returned to the studio with a string of producers, including Mark Saunders (who had recently worked with the Sounds' tourmates Shiny Toy Guns), Fountains of Wayne founder Adam Schlesinger, and Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha. The Sounds extricated themselves from their previous record contract, preferring to blaze their own path. Recording sessions for the group's third studio effort, Crossing the Rubicon, took place in Sweden, Los Angeles, and New York, and the resulting album was released in June 2009. Their highest-charting effort in the U.S. to date, Rubicon included the raucous "No One Sleeps When I'm Awake" and the Blondie-esque romp "Beatbox." The band spent the better part of 2009 touring the album, even nabbing a supporting slot with No Doubt.
In 2011, the Sounds released their fourth studio effort, Something to Die For, featuring the single "Better Off Dead." Although the LP charted in the most countries of any Sounds record to date, it soon faded from view, despite their evolution in style and craft. Two years later, they returned with their fifth studio album, Weekend, which included the title track single and the song "Shake Shake Shake." Their lowest showing to date, Weekend found the band hardened, introspective, and less exuberant than on prior efforts. Not much was heard from the Sounds for the rest of the decade, save for a quick EP, The Tales That We Tell, issued in 2017.
The Sounds returned in 2020, reinvigorated and recharged, with their sixth full-length, Things We Do for Love (Arnioki Records). Featuring the synth-heavy single "Safe and Sound," the matured set explored the trials and tribulations of adult relationships, adding fresh production choices to their arsenal while maintaining their familiar synths-and-basslines formula. ~ Neil Z. Yeung & Andy Kellman