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Swedish musicians The Sounds return to America



Where would music be without youthful exuberance and naïveté?

Frequently, it's that pie-eyed innocence that allows a band to push through all obstacles with the enthusiasm of one who doesn't know any better. If musicians ever had a better grasp of what they were signing up for, we might never have heard a band like The Sounds.

The Swedish retro New Wavers formed a decade ago when the members were fresh out of high school. Led by the platinum-blond singer Maja Ivarsson, the group's danceable hook-injected sound debuted three years later with 2002's "Living in America." It was an immediate sensation in Sweden, and launched the act into a whirlwind world tour.

"We thought we were going to be the biggest band on earth," said bassist Johan Bengtsson. "You're naive when you're young."

When the group finally returned home in 2005, it had only a little time to decompress before writing new songs for 2006's "Dying to Say This to You." While many tunes had a basic foundation, others were composed on the spot in the studio. The track was later prominently featured in a GEICO commercial.

The album hit the charts in America and proved almost as successful as its debut was in Sweden. The prominent role of keyboards and Ivarsson's high-energy vocals earned comparisons to Missing Persons and 'Til Tuesday, while the insistent melodies slowly converted more fans.

When The Sounds returned to Sweeden to record a third album, "Crossing the Rubicon," released in June, they allowed themselves more time to work on the songs " a lot more. The result was polished and keenly structured, with more emphasis on the guitars. From the sinewy, jagged rumble of "4 Songs & a Fight" to the pretty, chiming "Dorchester Hotel" and the dreamy sashay of "No One Sleeps When I'm Awake," there's a even greater vibrancy to "Rubicon." The album is split by the baroque opening track, whose dark moody sway stands in bas-relief against the rest of the album.

"We wanted like a breaker song, like back in the day when you did LPs, and you had two sides. We wanted to space it out, so we had two different parts and a breaking point in the middle," Bengtsson said.

The Sounds are happy to be back on tour, where they cut their teeth. But as they've grown as musicians, the aversion to the studio has decreased.

"Our whole band has always been revolving around touring. It's been a major thing, performing songs live in front of an audience and getting that reaction. But we've also matured and like being in the studio more now," Bengtsson said. "We got better at it, so that makes it more fun."

The Sounds with Foxy Shazam perform at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Diamond Ballroom, 8001 S. Eastern. "Chris Parker

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