Listening to Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, I was almost sure that I was listening to Tim Booth, the former lead singer of James, fronting for this Swedish five-piece. "Howl Howl Gaff Gaff" is the Shout Out Louds' international debut album, but is really a compilation of their earlier material. By the way, "gaff, gaff" is apparently the Russian equivalent of "woof, woof"... In terms of structure, perhaps the songs are chronologically arranged, but the first five of the album are mid-tempo, melancholic arrangements, before giving way then to more pop-sounding up-tempo tracks.
The album opens on an exasperated note, with Olenius wryly complaining on "The Comeback" that:
I'm kind of tired
Cause you wouldn't let me sleep last night.
I'm a reasonable man,
But I can't believe what's on your mind
This track has a good hook, as does "Oh Sweetheart", a song about a guy prepared to continue pursuing a relationship against the advice of his friends.
The album does become much more downbeat then with "A Track and a Train", which is about a lonely person seemingly about to end their life and "Go Sadness", the album's bleakest-sounding song. However, this melancholy is quickly ushered away with the pop tune "Please, Please, Please", with its xylophone-playing and the hope that the girl can be won back, despite a "so-and-so" relationship in the past.
Other tracks to listen out for are "Hurry Up, Lets Go", which sounds like The Strokes on speed and "Seagull", which is a rare demonstration of flute-playing in popular music. At eight-munutes in length, this folky song also proves a very mellow ending to the album.
Shout Out Louds play simple but attractive melodies. There are times when Olenius' voice can become tiresome, but this remains a band whose next full-scale effort remains watching out for.