Go ahead and place the Sounds among those modern rock bands that unabashedly undertake the challenge to make dance music for kids who think that they’re too cool to dance. When judged on this basis — and perhaps only on this basis — Dying to Say This to You is a smashing success. This is a party record, a head-bobber, and to search for greater substance would be futile. The opening track may be called “Song with a Mission,” but let’s not mistake the Sounds’ goal for anything loftier than a little fist-pumping and ass-shaking.
Sweden has imported its share of both candy-colored pop and rock attitude, and the Sounds meet at the intersection. Muscular disco abounds throughout the album, which teems with Jesper Anderberg’s icy synthesizers and Fredrik Nilsson’s high hats. Lead singer Maja Ivarsson sings with an abrasively melodic authority that recalls a merger of Deborah Harry and Catatonia’s Cerys Matthews. Ivarsson alternates in her songs between grabbing her men by the collar and kicking them to the curb, exuding raw sex appeal and at the same time proudly exclaiming that her dick is bigger than yours.
Producer Jeff Saltzman provides the same slick veneer that he gave the Killers’ Hot Fuss, but thankfully the self-importance of Brandon Flowers is nowhere to be found. Few albums in recent memory have featured keyboards and guitar that co-exist as comfortably as Anderberg’s and Felix Rodriguez’s instruments do here.
There’s a tendency for the members of the Sounds to repeat themselves both musically and lyrically, and that might be troubling were this not only a second album. But although “Queen of Apology” and “Ego” are exactly the same song, they are the same catchy song — an important distinction. Dying to Say This to You clips along for a thirty-five minutes, only pausing with a single ballad (“Night After Night”) at the midpoint — and even that song is given the dance-remix treatment as a bonus track. There are no indulgent interludes or meandering mid-tempo songs dragging down the end stretch. Yes, the Sounds’ music starts to blur together, but what a blur.