The Sounds: 7 November 2009 - The Vic Theatre, Chicago / Words and Pictures by Kirstie Shanley
In the vain of kids who grew up listening to ABBA and dreamed of playing to millions with a blast of arena rock against some catchy pop hooks, Sweden’s The Sounds are all about delivery. The five-piece has been around for a decade and has slowly seen their popularity increase in North America, allowing them to sell out increasingly larger venues. Though this was the last night of their North American tour, The Sounds seemed far from exhausted while on stage, giving the audience their all.
All five members of The Sounds work together well to keep the songs really tight but it’s their uninhibited leader, Maja Ivarsson, who tends to rule the stage. Unencumbered by an instrument, she runs around the stage with an athlete’s quickness, often getting in the screaming audience’s faces. She plays amidst a wash of heavy backlighting but always stands out with presence and gestures--which vary from the classically iconic to the explicit. It’s difficult to tear your eyes away from her. Many times she also demonstrated a physical chemistry with the other members of the band, involving them briefly in her suggestive escapades.
The Sounds have been recently touring in support of their third and most recent album, 2009’s Crossing the Rubicon. The album has some heavy handed hits, including, “Beatbox,” “Dorchester Hotel,” “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake,” and “My Lover.” It's entertainment, stadium style, and even when you’re listening at home it’s difficult not to dance. However, the band performs these songs live with such an energy that it takes them to a new level of fun.
Certainly The Sounds proved exciting to the crowd, who sang, clapped, and danced along spontaneously throughout the set, making the soaring choruses and guitar progressions an anthemic experience. The band was at its best when playing the songs more based in rock than their relatively slower ballads. Delving into older hits throughout their approximately 90-minute set also produced some highlights, chief among them “Painted by Numbers,” “Hurt You,” and “Ego.”