We Are Serenades at Empty Bottle | Concert preview
Shout Out Louds singer finds harmony and synthesizers with Finnish pal.
It’s not often that a rock side project eclipses its primary band, but We Are Serenades, which features Adam Olenius of Swedish band Shout Out Louds, plus Markus Krunegard of Finland’s Laakso, seem poised to do so. That’s more telling of SOL’s baffling struggles to find a larger foothold in America: Despite dovetailing with indie rock’s mid-2000s fascination with all things Swedish, a cozy home on the marquee label Merge Records, and excellent singles such as “Impossible,” “Tonight I Have to Leave It” and “Walls,” Shout Out Louds own the ignominious claim to fame of peaking on the Billboard top 200 LP chart at… No. 200.
We Are Serenades, by contrast, are taking a step up to the big leagues, releasing their debut album, Criminal Heaven, on Interscope imprint Cherrytree, home to other mainstream-indie acts such as Robyn, Feist and La Roux. WAS don’t stray too far from the Shout Out Louds’ summery indie pop, though Krunegard provides a lovely harmonic counterpoint to Olenius that serves as the cornerstone of the group’s sound.
While this is indisputably guitar pop music—and sometimes banal guitar pop at that—We Are Serenades shine brightest when touches of country, synth-pop and baroque rock creep into the mix. Songs like “Come Home” and “Birds” best show off their lilting arrangements and smart accoutrements without overwhelming the songs in sonic filigree, which is just as well because it’s the interplay between Olenius and Krunegard that deserves a place of prominence.