The Sounds make sweet noise in Boston

A review of The Sounds at the House of Blues on September 16, 2009

, Staff Writer

Hailing from Sweden, The Sounds bring a sound that is very reminiscent of Blondie or Missing Persons. From a strictly sonic perspective, though they’re much more contemporary, the first album being released only in 2003. The band is a total throwback to the coked-out dance parties of the 1980s with fast-paced beats, heavy synths, crunchy guitars and an intense female vocalist. The Sounds have got it all. So it should be no surprise that their performance at the House of Blues was exactly the type of ridiculous dance party you’re probably imagining right now.

With three albums under their belt, it’s clear right off the bat that The Sounds have spent a lot of time on stage, particularly vocalist Maja Ivarsson, who is undeniably the centerpiece of the band and who made sure the entire space of the stage was put to use. She strutted around confidently at times; at others she would be leaping in the air with her legs parallel to the ground. While she might not vocally be the best singer you’ll here (the Swedish accent made some lines come out a bit garbled), her energy is up there, and it’s pretty clear why she’s up in front.

The whole show felt like I had stepped into a time machine and come out twenty years ago. A numebr of audience members really embraced the whole 80s aesthetic and even went so far as to dress the part. There wasn’t a lack of bright colors, that’s for sure. The constantly flashing lights from up stage helped bring things along, of course, basking the venue in dark reds or bright blues. The Sounds do have a number of well-known songs, and these were obviously the most well-received by the audience. If energy was high normally, when “Paint By Numbers” dropped the entire House of Blues just went into overdrive. Every time the chorus hit, everyone was moving, and there were a number of moments like this where you simply couldn’t not dance.

The acoustics in the House of Blues continue to be a boon on the bands fortunate enough to play it: Ivarsson’s vocals sounded out cleanly above the men behind her, really quite a feat, considering the amount of sound coming out of the speakers. The Sounds employ a lot of synthesizer in their music, and this is usually enough to drown out something as relatively thin as a human voice. Fredrik Nilsson’s drums were crisp and on-point, and the guitar and bass sounded out nicely, too.

The band is touring in support of their newest album, Crossing The Rubicon, which was released in June. Admittedly, their older material is a lot more fun to listen to, though their lead single, “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake”, was well-received. However, the relentless driving beat that characterized their early work wasn’t quite as forceful. This is really a minor gripe, though, because less intense for The Sounds is still really intense for many other bands. “Living In America” was another highlight of the show, saving its explosions for the chorus, inducing lots of fist-pumping in the air.

The Sounds definitely aren’t the most musically-complex band out there, but sometimes it’s nice to take a break and just have some fun, and it is for this reason that The Sounds are going to continue to excel. They’ve got their formula down, and the past six years or so have been a matter of perfecting it while continuing a steady output of new material. The band has often said that they rely primarily on their concerts for promotion, which explains the world tour, as well as the fact that they’re able to perform on stage so well. What The Sounds lack in musicality they more than make up for with a fierce stage presence and impeccable ability to command an entire room’s attention for ninety minutes.

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