"Crossing the Rubicon" by The Sounds

The Sounds
Crossing the Rubicon

Universal Records
2009

Review

Yes, it's true. The album cover isn't necessarily going to grab you the way the cover of "Dying To Say This To You" might have. But if you give the record a spin or two, I think you'll find an album of more solid pop-rock that you can have a good time listening to.

I'll be honest and admit that the album cover of The Sounds last album is what got me to give it a spin. I remember because I was at a Virgin Megastore and saw that album at a listening station and as I walked by it I did a double-take. You can see what I am talking about at the bottom of this post (for reference). But then I gave the album a listen. What I heard was some excellent, poppy, and fun Rock music. The singer had a great Rock voice and it was clear that the band was just trying to have some fun. So naturally, when I found out they had released another album, I had to pick it up right away without even listening to a track and was pleased to find more of what I loved the first time around...minus a hot cover.

This is a Guitar, Bass, Drums, Keyboards, and Vocals band. I noticed that the keyboards on this album are definitely much more prominent than before - particularly on the awesome and near-dance track "My Lover" (no relation to "La Bouche" however). The sound of The Sounds seems fuller here and there are moments where they have really tried to amp up the drama (you'll think of "Sam's Town" Killers when you hear "Dorchester Hotel").

Speaking of "Be My Lover", this song was one of the standouts for me. This song reminds me of something that would have been at home on the last Yeah Yeah Yeahs album - just sped up a whole lot. Yes, it's extremely poppy and it's just screaming for a techno remix. That doesn't mean it's not fun. Another standout - "4 Songs and a Fight" - sounds to me like a Radio 4 song. So naturally, I loved it. Finally, the other song on here that really grabbed my attention was "Midnight Sun". I don't think of ballads as being the strong point of "The Sounds", but this ballad is extremely catchy and is sort of uptempo in the sense that I feel strange even calling it a ballad. Well, whatever it is, I loved it.

Elsewhere you get some interesting experiments. Check out "Beatbox" which finds The Sounds in full-on "Buffalo Stance" mode. I call this one too interesting too fail in spite of the concept (like singing rappers, rapping singers seldom work out for the better). Though again the band is just trying to have a good time. "Dorchester Hotel" was a bit too-Killers for my tastes and I really dug the 8-bit sounds of "Lost In Love".

Anyhow, if you are looking for a solid pop-rock record, give this one a listen. The ballads towards the end of the album are just decent but when The Sounds are just having fun trying to throw around as many influences as they can, you'll have fun too. As singer Maja Ivarsson says on "No One Sleeps When I'm Awake":

The dreams I dream the song I sing for you
They're coming from my heart
Is my message getting through?

...well, if your message is to have fun then yes.

4.100 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. No One Sleeps When I'm Awake (album version) (04:25) 4
2. 4 Songs$ & A Fight (03:27) 5
3. My Lover (04:28) 5
4. Dorchester Hotel (04:10) 3
5. Beatbox (04:05) 4
6. Underground (03:50) 4
7. Crossing the Rubicon (02:06)
8. Midnight Sun (album version) (04:33) 5
9. Lost in Love (05:08) 4
10. The Only Ones (04:47) 3
11. Home Is Where Your Heart Is (07:42) 4
12. Goodnight Freddy (04:05)
13. No One Sleeps When I'm Awake (Arnioki Sessions) (04:33)
14. Midnight Sun (Arnioki Sessions) (04:22)