Shout Out Louds: Liverpool Barfly, Sunday September 11

Scandinavian swoon popsters struggle to provide visceral thrills

Sweden’s Shout Out Louds sound very, very Scandinavian indeed. They’re sugary sweet. They’re winsome. They simultaneously beg to be loved and are utterly loveable. They do sparkly shimmering pop music of the kind that shows no interest in discordance or nastiness.

Their one problem is that niceness can sometimes translate into dullness. After an early outing of superb bounce-pop new single ‘The Comeback’ (which is like Arcade Fire and Belle And Sebastian sharing an ice cream in a pleasant meadow, perhaps by a fjord), the set falls into the realms of mediocrity. It’s all very well having a singer, Adam Olenius, with a voice full of the breathy yelps of Robert Smith. It’s very good to have a genuine Swedish blonde bombshell playing the xylophone. Oh, and yes, Olenius does have rather immaculate cheekbones and a dashing haircut. But sometimes all that isn’t enough. In a set bordering on 60 minutes, we want some bite.

And then we realise that this is the lull before the big climax. As the finale gets closer, we get a double whammy of songs to remind us what Shout Out Louds can do so well. It starts with ‘100 Degrees’, which sounds like The Strokes toying around with a cheap Casio keyboard. Then we get the closest that this band get to an epic, ‘Very Loud’. It starts off Very Quiet, with a countrified guitar line twangling away, but soon becomes, if not Very Loud then an awful lot louder. With more songs like this, the Shout Out Louds might hold our attention for longer – here’s to autumn and beyond.

Tom Goodhand