Sweden is one of those longitudinal oddities, where everlasting sun and everlasting night box back and forth in tune with the seasons, and the country's biggest music acts have a similar double nature. The Cardigans sounded like fluff and sang about wrist-slashing, and the Hives sound like daggers and sing about fluff, yet Sweden's Shout Out Louds are un-schizophrenic: Their debut LP, the unfortunately-titled Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, is a sonic chiaroscuro. Pop melodies burst out of distorted guitar hooks, bummed-out vocals shadow a jingle-jangle beat you can bop to--and that's all in one song, the unstoppable lead single "Very Loud." In concert, the band's adrenalized garage pop refuses to take sides even more emphatically; the math-rock time signatures and grunge hooks register faster and louder, while the sugary melodies shoot straight into the crowd's bloodstream.
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