Shout Out Louds - Optica

A celebration of indie pop at its absolute finest.

Label: Merge

Rating: 7

Last year, when ‘Blue Ice’ snuck out as a teaser for this album, the thinking was all; ‘Boy, is this ever sweet; so smokey, so slick, so very smooooooth.’ Pitched somewhere between Streets Of Philadelphia and a real sleepy Bowie, it hinted that ‘Optica’ was maybe going to be more than a Shout Out Louds indie pop record, and that was fine and that was great and that was totally ‘Good on you, guys’. The thing is, though, the thing is with Shout Out Louds is that they’re so damn fine at the indie pop. Y’know? The indie pop? That stuff that’s all chime and swoon, that stuff where the only thing bigger than the dreams are the choruses and the only thing bigger than the choruses are the hearts? Yeah, that stuff, the proper stuff.

So, whilst the sentiment was appreciated and the extended ambition admired, there’s palpable relief when ‘Sugar’ gets proceedings underway and the thinking is all; ‘Yes, Shout Out Louds, yes, this is how you start a record’ - no dilly, precious little dally, instead wham-bam-slam straight into this behemoth of a pop tune. Don’t hold that giant chorus back ‘til the fifth song - our attention spans are in tatters, we might never get that far – throw the whole book at it, the whole cavalcade; yesyesyes, totally use the strings, embrace the falsetto, drop the pace, slow down into doo-doo-doo-doo-doo blissful revery. This song demands torrential downpours of ticker tape and cascading glitter. This song deserves your love, and it’s not even the best on the record.

But, okay, let’s be honest. There are times when the indie pop is a bit more ‘oh’ than ‘woah’, when you gaze at the floor and sheepishly admit it’s going to take more than yet another exultant chorus to rescue a song. But, more so, there’s also no doubt that the promise of ‘Blue Ice’ holds firm, no doubt that enough variety exists within the album’s belly to make this no more than a minor concern. Bask in the early 90s partyparty danceydancey regret / let’s do it again / regret / let’s do it again feel of ‘Chasing The Sinking Sun’. Lose yourself in the insistent, driving rhythm of ‘Glasgow’, savour the wit of ‘After 10 drinks this is what I meant to tell you’ and for that thing to be slurred, incomprehensible, but instantly recognisable to all those that have slurred that thing after 10 drinks. Breathe as it slows to gentle contemplation, offering respite from the exhausting waves of giant crashing choruses that you probably don’t want a break from, but which will definitely do you some good.

Mostly though, mostly, there’s ‘Where You Come In’ which does pop cliches to you, which does goosebumps to you, which does ‘That’s just too good’ to you, which does listen and listen again and listen again to you. Do what it takes to hear this song, let it bounce around your flinty heart until it knocks the rough edges off - let it be your song, be generous with it, let it be your friend’s song. Just, y’know, let it be everywhere, and treasure this celebration of indie pop at its absolute finest.