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CD of The Week

Week of 7/20/20

    The Sounds - Things We Do for Love (Arioki)

    It's strange to think about how long Swedish new wavers The Sounds have been around, especially given how they've remained on the fringes of visibility for the better part of two decades. Five albums in nine years between 2002-2013 and subsequent world-touring (including a 10th-anniversary tour of 2006's Dying to Say This to You) kept the band busy if not consistent. As the band began to start their families, among other things, they have only since released one EP until Things We Do for Love. All of this done without a single change to the lineup since their inception 22 years ago.

    Typically, the writing has circulated among the band, but the brain trust for this album fell to charismatic vocalist Maja Ivarsson and percussionist Fredrik Blond, if only because they were most available. The result was an album that feels closer to the band's prime when Ivarsson did more of writing.

    The title track and lead single feels like the "thousand pounds of dynamite" the lyrics and rhythms suggest this album needed for an opener. "Safe and Sound" contains a rather intoxicating synth baseline they once mastered and later played a part in making CHVRCHES so endearing. This is later apparent on "Hollow" which brings Ivarsson's frosty vocals into focus along with guitar work of Felix Rodriguez, who himself lends his voice to "Bonnie and Clyde," a true duet only done once before within the band.

    Closing track "Miami" is seemingly The Sounds' first true foray into 80's darkwave, a welcome addition to their repertoire and proof-positive that time constants were not to limit them to nostalgia. My personal favorite is "Stay Free," calling back to their 2002 debut album Living in America as one of the most fast-paced tracks the band has ever done.

    Overall, The Sounds may be a bit long in the tooth by now, but on Things We Do for Love, they hit all their notes and even a couple new ones. As someone who has aged with the band - they were the first band that I took to under the indie rock umbrella 18 years ago - it was fulfilling that they have been able to deliver a true bounce-back album. Even as life has called them to new things, they have successfully cultivated an album that both displays their growth and is an ode to their past.
    Review by Joshua X

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