Review : The Soundtrack of Our Lives - Throw It to the Universe
PopmattersI’ve always been impressed by this Swedish band’s consistency. Each record sounds like the Who’s anthems swirl and swell, circa 1970. While this sextet grew up as punks, since the mid-1990s they have delivered a series of solid albums hearkening back to classic AOR and FM staples forty-odd years ago. This sixth studio album sustains their approach. (I commend the past four releases for clever cover art.) Since I favor the Who over not only the Rolling Stones but the Beatles, my bias shows. Humbler than Pink Floyd, more concise than progressive rock, TSOOL sharpened early on a talent for catchy, stadium-friendly riffs. Ebbot Lundberg’s vocals recall Roger Daltrey’s shift between bellow and croon, with a touch of John Lennon’s snarl or Mick Jagger’s whine, and maybe a hint of Iggy Pop’s drawl. Ian Person, Kalle Gustafsson, Fredrik Sandsten, Mattias Bärjed and Martin Hederos back up Lundberg with a nimble grasp of comparatively concise hard rock which, with cosmic analogies and timeworn phrasing of what admittedly are lots of stock phrases and basic rhymes, expresses the common touch which transmits the mystical longing within the music while remaining simple enough to transcend linguistic or cultural barriers as a lingua franca accounting no doubt for the band’s broad appeal throughout Europe.
How this music avoids slavish imitation or arena-rock cliche puzzles me. All I can say is that it remains fresh even as every note nods to a predecessor. On Throw It to the Universe, no new terrain is charted, no innovation introduced. While this may disappoint those craving novelty, for other fans content with quality, more of the same satisfies. As finicky as I am about rock music and what I like in an era in which everything new reminds me of something old, somehow still, I like this.
The title track opens with a hint of spaceflight chatter, but that’s it for found sounds. Otherwise, it’s a signature build-up from a slow start to a soaring end. “Faster Than the Speed of Light” provides a mid-tempo chance to hear more interplay between the spacious keyboards of Hederos and the efficient percussion of Sandsten as they mix within the intertwined guitars of Person and Bärjed. “Freeride” stays closer to a spaghetti Western or the Doors in its somnolent, sparklingly hushed mood, before, as typical, “If Nothing Lasts Forever” returns to a guitar-based, slightly pedal distorted steady tune. “When We Fall” recalls Pink Floyd both in its quieter moments and as it stretches out towards the higher realms that surround these song titles and the album’s apparent theme of flight....full text
AvclubFor Swedish rockers The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, it’s been 16 years without any serious missteps, their tuneful guitar rock remaining mostly unchanged and pleasantly unaffected by the various short-lived fads of contemporary music. Still, 14 years have passed since the band’s creative peak, Extended Revelation For The Psychic Weaklings Of Western Civilization, and the Grammy-nominated breakout Behind The Music is now a decade old, so it’s not a huge surprise that the band has deemed Throw It To The Universe to be its last. What is surprising is how forward-thinking and transformative the album sounds.
While the group has always drawn from the acoustic-electric rock of the ’60s and ’70s, Throw It To The Universe draws equally from more recent fare, from the glam guitar sheen of The Strokes to the experimental pop of Grizzly Bear. Often such era-blending occurs within the same song: “You Are The Beginning,” for example, begins with a jangly hook borrowed from The Go-Betweens’ mid-’00s reunion, then falls into a folky melody reminiscent of The Byrds. The album’s most energetic and urgent material, however, is back-loaded, as the driving, dramatic “Faster Than The Speed Of Light” kicks off the rushing denouement of the band’s career.
Wrapping things up are two memorable songs that allude to this impending end. Atop layers of piano and alt-country slide guitar on “What’s Your Story?,” frontman Ebbot Lundberg asks, “What’s the story that you’re leaving behind?” before shouting through the epic climax, “Everything you know is about to change.” However, TSOOL opts for the quiet, contemplative finale in “Shine On,” in which lush harmonies softly roll along to the chant of “Shine on / There’s another day after tomorrow / There’s another day after the end.” Throw It To The Universe’s seven-track swan song isn’t exactly the band going out on top, but shows it leaving the game admirably, crafting the same catchy, thoughtful songs it’s always made. ...full text
AllmusicWhile it's commonplace for bands to overstay their welcome in pop music, one never thought that would happen to Gothenburg, Sweden's the Soundtrack of Our Lives. That said, credit has to be given that they only did so by one album instead of plodding on into musical embarrassment for a decade or two. When the band issued the double-length Communion in 2009, it was hailed by critics and fans alike as their finest achievement. It would have been a grand place to exit. It's not so much that Throw It to the Universe is a bad album; but it is quite inconsistent when compared to their best work. TSOOL has never strayed far from their '60s and '70s influences -- Pink Floyd, the Who, the Kinks, Love, etc., but they always had a very defined individual persona to add to them....full text
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