Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Circles” by Shout Out Louds from the 2013 album Optica on Merge.
Not unlike many of their countrymen, Stockholm’s Shout Out Louds are a fairly unassuming bunch, but their songcraft – equally indebted to indie rock’s forebears and its contemporary poptimists – is far more clever than it lets on, prioritizing directness and melody. Formed by vocal Adam Olenius, bassist Ted Malmos, and guitarist Carl Von Arbin (who would soon be joined by bassist Eric Edman and keyboardist Bebban Stenborg), the group’s international profile raised with the success of “Very Loud“, an early, rollicking single that scored them a support slot with The Strokes, kickstarting a career that would soon become defined by persistent touring and recording, resulting in 2007’s Our Ill Wills, 2010’s Work, and, most recently, 2012’s shimmering Optica. “Circles” is the penultimate track on its parent album, and while it (appropriately) feels like a cool down from the preceding ~45 minute stretch of songs that preceded it, it’s a smooth one at that. On its own, it stands as a slyly languid pop tune that wouldn’t feel out of place on a more polished version of Seventeen Seconds. Pining “Just give me a little more time” before a musical break, Olenius’ plea is composed, but never resolved. By the final verse, the track feels (no pun intended) elliptical, its repeated elements forming a feeling that gets bigger and more resonant with every minute.
Shout Out Louds are off the road at the moment, but if they return to this side of the Atlantic, they’ll announce those plans on their website and Facebook. Below, watch the band play “Circles” live for KEXP last May.