"This is just the beginning / This is just a start," sings Adam Olenius on "Jumbo Jet," the opening track on Shout Out Louds' new album, Ease My Mind, the band's first in four years. The song, which is premiering below, signals a rebirth for the Swedish act, largely ditching the heavy synths of 2013's Optica for something more acoustic and organic, potentially an extension of the sound Olenius honed on his great 2016 under-the-radar EP, Looking Forward to the New Me. Alongside Olenius, most other members of the band had their own side projects as well, including keyboardist and vocalist Bebban Stenborg with Astropol and bassist Ted Malmros with A Nighthawk.
There was about a year when none of the band members saw much of each other; between Stockholm, Hawaii, Los Angeles, and Melbourne, everyone was doing their own thing. They returned to Sweden one by one and decided to meet up every Tuesday night, simply to hang out and put some extra life into one of the most boring nights of the week. "We were excited to be back," Olenius tells me over an early morning Skype session. "It was more pressure on the fourth album but for this, I was just excited to be back with my friends. There was a really nice energy that everybody contributed to—it just came naturally."
Recorded in Olenius' cabin about an hour and a half away from Stockholm and mainly produced by Fredrik Swahn of fellow Swedish act The Amazing, the sessions for Ease My Mind were characterized by a looseness unseen previously—fueled by loads of beer, hours-long jam sessions would eventually turn into compact indie-pop songs. "Jumbo Jet," in particular, was born this way: "It went on and on and on and after a couple hours, I found the words and then we did it like a travel diary."
But while the new songs may share a similar feel to earlier midtempo Our Ill Wills standouts "Your Parents Living Room" and "You Are Dreaming," the five bandmates are in a much different place in 2017. Most members have families now and have had to adjust their songwriting processes as a result. "Because music is such a narcissistic way of existing—as soon as you get an idea, you have to go write it," Olenius explains of what life is like as both a musician and a father to a two and a half year old son. "Now I have to go into a cupboard or a closet and close the door. There are so many voice memos in my phone that I recorded in such weird situations, but I have to be able to write down my ideas."
The album may be their most mature sounding one yet—they're definitely a far cry from the scrappy band that wrote "Hurry Up Let's Go"—but Ease My Mind still features the same catchy melodies, gorgeous harmonies, and nostalgic lyrical themes that dot the entirety of Shout Out Louds' back catalogue. The album includes an interesting look back at their own history, even including a reference to The Cassettes, a local band that opened up for them in Baltimore on the last night of their first US tour back in 2005.
Olenius also included a song called "Paola," about his friendship with Bebben Stenborg that dates back well before Shout Out Louds became a band. "It's about us when we left school and we took a turn," Olenius says. "I don't think she knows I did it as a gift. I don't think she knows it's as much about her than it is."
That mindset sums up this album pretty perfectly. Ease My Mind is the sound of a great band that's been at it for years, happy just to still be making music together at this point in their lives. Shout Out Louds originally released their first album, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, in October 2003 when they were teenagers, rebelling against the traditional suburbs they were raised in. They've since grown up, had children, moved all around the world, started side projects, and written for multiple different acts, but after a year or so of making it a point to meet up a minimum of once a week, they're gearing up to release one of their strongest records to date.
On lead single, "Oh Oh," Olenius nearly screams, "Feels like it's clearing up and something is starting." It's a triumphant refrain, one that wholly reflects how excited the five of them are to merely be in the same room again.
Ease My Mind here is out September 22 via Merge Records. Pre-order it here.