Dying To Say This To You
New Line Records
By: Eric Greenwood
The Hives are to The Rolling Stones as The Sounds are to Blondie- not exactly replicas, but the level of influence is perfectly obvious in less substantive ways. The Sounds dress themselves like new wave punks, too, which means calculatedly tough yet self-consciously fashionable. It might not be today's fashion, but, hey, they're from Sweden. Trends might travel a little more slowly over there.
The Sounds' make no bones about their retro-tinged pop. They're not trying to pass this off as original, and it's not by any means. But it is clearly catchy as hell, if almost annoyingly so. Dying to Say This to You kicks off with one of the finest singles of the year so far, "Song with a Mission." It's a feisty, retro-rocker with pummeling bass and jerky, panicky guitars, but what makes it is lead singer Maja Ivarsson's impudent delivery. It's totally affected, but in all the right ways, stretching out her syllables with exaggerated punk charm. It's a rare indie anthem that makes you want to jump around and fist-pump along to its brazen, arrogant fury: "without me you're nothing at all."
No other song on the album even hints at that level of tension or power. There are still plenty of hooks, but they sound so packaged and formulaic that it's often difficult to stomach it all, even with the album's short 35 minute running time. Ivarsson's scratchy yet punchy voice saves most songs from sugar pop overload, but her lyrics often fail to carry their weight. Example chorus: "Hey, hey, hey, hey/that's what I say." Suffice it to say The Sounds have next to nothing to say. They just want to look and sound good saying it.