For some reason the Northern Europeans -- the Scandinavians, the British Islanders -- seem more adept at the concept of euphoric misery than us. Following in the footsteps of such enthusiastic mopes as the Smiths and the Cure, Sweden's Shout Out Louds have delivered a debut album that's both exhilarating and depressive. Leader Adam Olenius moans like a boy with a thorn in his side, imbuing his rather schizophrenic lyrics ("I'm so happy, oh so happy/ Then again I'm always sad") with a healthy (or, rather, unhealthy) dose of ennui. At the same time, the band plays a kind of jittery, caffeinated pop full of jaunty guitar riffs, giddy handclaps, squirming keyboards, and sweet flute melodies. Howl Howl Gaff Gaffsounds like a goth boy fronting a bunch of lithium addicts, like Stuart Murdoch goosing the Jesus and Mary Chain, like a boy "finding something pretty in a jar of flies." Heaven knows these Swedes are miserable -- and elated -- now.
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