Sounds’ like success: A Swedish import you won’t find at IKEA

Jennifer Suh

While Maja Ivarsson, frontwoman of Swedish rock band The Sounds, seemed happy to see the Chicago crowd again, she seemed rather disappointed with one particular venue regulation: Before she sang a stripped-down version of “Night After Night” from the band’s second album, she told the audience that she loves smoking, but she is not allowed to do so on stage; she told the audience that she would hold off on lighting up a cigarette because she didn’t want to make anyone angry.

With her iconic mic swirling, high kicks and that signature sweetly badass attitude, Ivarsson kept the crowd jumping all night. Starting from the first song, “It’s So Easy,” Ivarsson instantly took over the stage at the Vic Theater with her natural charisma..

Touring non-stop since 1999, the Sounds played 210 shows in 2006 alone. Their North American tour began in mid-October in Florida, and the band has officially started US promotion of their latest album, Something to Die For. Their 90-minute set during their Chicago show included many of their previous hits like “Living in America,” “Painted by Numbers,” and “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake”-all of which their cult-y fan base, who turned up in droves at the Vic, knew by heart.

The first single from their fourth studio album, “Better Off Dead,” was recently featured in Rolling Stone’s MP3 Download section. Guitarist and Ivarsson’s high school classmate Felix Rodriguez said, “It’s a song that we refused to compromise with when we recorded it.” This track is multi-layered, as Rodriguez describes it, and has a strong dance-electronic component that has not been shown so much in their previous albums.

Their second single, “Something to Die For,” is another song written by Rodriguez and the band’s keyboardist/guitarist Jesper Annenberg. This upbeat track is more similar to the band’s previous work in that it has easy and catchy melody, but the overall electronic vibe of the album also shines through. Their latest album also features “The No No Song,” which has a fun and easy beat with a simple melody, and “Yeah Yeah Yeah,” which was used as a part of the soundtrack of the movie Scream 4.

As just one of a burgeoning wave of Swedish import acts-including Robyn and Lykke Li-The Sounds have produced yet another exceptional work that made me purchase both vinyl and CD version of the album. Their show is one you’d never want to miss.

The last show of The Sounds’ ongoing North American tour is scheduled for November 22 in Vancouver.

– Jennifer Suh