CD Review of Dying to Say This to You by The Sounds

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Dying to Say This to You
starstarno starno starno star Label: New Line Records
Released: 2006
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Rehashing the past is the new cool. And of course the new cool always becomes the new classic, which in turn then turns to classic. But the fact of the matter is the new cool is hardly turning out anything worthy of that half-assed new classic. Yes, you’re now saying to yourself, “What the hell is he going on about?” Well, see, it’s all about all these bands that think mining past decades and presenting them as “new” is a really cool thing to do. It started a few years back with all of those “The” bands (Hives, Strokes, Vines, etc.) regurgitating a form of garage rock that wasn’t seriously cool because the bands weren’t really garage bands. But kiddies and critics alike fell over themselves because it was an apparent break from the then-popular boy band phase and so anything sounded semi-thrilling compared to that. And now everyone thinks “Last Nite” by the Strokes is classic.

So now we have Sweden’s the Sounds, who are obsessed with crapping out their take on the ‘80s, and more specifically, the Cars. The Sounds’ first album had no real staying power to it, and unsurprisingly, neither does Dying to Say This to You. Maybe this is thrilling shit in their home country, but we’re smarter than that over here, right? The US of A gave the world the Cars, and hearing a half-assed copycat with a chick singer isn’t going to measure up to our original formula, right? Right! So a word to you kids who haven’t discovered the Cars just yet and are perhaps into the Sounds: just drop what you’re doing and pick up those old albums and groove to the real thing.

If you really want to know what this album sounds like, imagine Avril Lavigne actually having the “edginess” she wishes she had, and then you have this in a nutshell. Only, of course, the Sounds have no discernible edge since they’re too busy straining the remains of “Let’s Go” and “Shake It Up” through their flimsy filters. Dig it as lead singer Maja Ivarsson, who’s too busy trying to look like Debbie Harry, offers such pithiness as “You’re feeling shitty, I don’t feel no pity / Without me you’re nothing at all” on opening cut “Song with a Mission.” The faux energy is easily seen through on first pass. This isn’t the real thing. This isn’t even new classic.

But don’t tell the band this. They’re too busy offering up “Queen of Apology,” that squirts out the Cars some more and watches it puddle up at their feet with nauseating abandon. Rock and roll, indeed. Ivarsson tries too hard, and falters. You can hear her trying too hard with her delivery, trying too hard with her attitude, and trying too damn hard with that hair. And then there’s the “tender” “Night After Night,” a sort-of attempt at a ballad that doesn’t make a case for the group as a slow dance act. What’s a poor band to do?

If there is anything redeeming to this album, it’s that the Sounds do play competently and their brand of Old New is sure to charm the pants off some listeners who couldn’t care less about the Old Masters. You know, that same group of people who ironically buy that boy band fluff. But since those groups are all gone now, the Sounds might actually seem like the real thing to those people. And hey, I even recently saw this disc being sold for a cheap $7.98 at the local Target. What that really says about the band and this album is anyone’s guess, but you could do worse with your money. Not much worse, but Dying to Say This to You makes for a passable, if minor, distraction.

~Jason Thompson