Not to be confused with the '80s British band and Dave DiMartino fav the Sound, the Sounds came together in the late '90s in Helsingborn, Sweden, after high school chums guitarist Felix Rodriguez and bassist Johan Bengtsson drafted drummer Fredrik Nilsson and singer Maja Ivarsson to fill out the combo. Despite its title, Living In America, the band's 2002 debut, was recorded in Sweden at various locales including Nilsson's Helsingborg apartment. A year after the disc became a hit in their homeland, it was picked up for release in the U.S., supported by the band's stints opening for the Strokes and playing the Warped Tour.
I'm happy to report that the Sounds decision to go the independent route has seemingly freed up the band artistically. The Sounds still rock with a mix of spiky guitars and new wave-inspired synths that at times recall mid-period Blondie, but the band seems more focused on Crossing The Rubicon and more willing to take left turns. Some have criticized Ivarsson's "Nordic pseudo-rapping" on "Beatbox," but I actually find it kind of charming, as it recalls the days Deborah Harry helped bring hip-hop to the mainstream with "Rapture." Elsewhere, in "The Only Ones," Ivarsson and company channel the Boss via the Killers in a track that manages to sound simultaneously classic and fresh. That's not an easy combo to pull off, but the Sounds do it with ease on Crossing The Rubicon.
- Maja Ivarsson