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Optica by Shout Out Louds
Released: Feb 2013
Label: Merge Records
Four albums in, these buoyant, coed, '80s-leaning Swedes are practically indie-pop veterans. And while Optica may lack a smash hit in the "Young Folks" or "Somebody That I Used to Know" vein, fans of either tune will thrill to the cool, coy, disarmingly sweet synth-and-jangle truffles here, packed with the lovelorn, literate wit of vintage Belle & Sebastian: "It was the smoke in my eyes/ That made me want to cry/ But I don't think you believed me." Bonus points for incorporating strings and horns and flutes without getting all corny and baroque about it.
Rob Harvilla