The Sounds Break Down Their Synth-Heavy “Things We Do for Love” Track by Track
The Swedish pop-rockers’ first album in seven years gets explained by Fredrik Blond.
It’s been nearly a decade and a half since The Sounds first caught our ears with Dying to Say This to You, which they followed up with a handful of new-wave-fuelled synth pop records. The Swedish five-piece actually celebrated two decades together two years ago, a milestone that they’re belatedly celebrating in 2020 by dropping their sixth and most-indebted-to-ABBA-yet album Things We Do for Love, which sees its official release date today.
Their first LP in seven years, Things We Do continues the band’s development from mid-aughts indie melodies to full-on danceable pop, with synths pulsating on ten of the album’s eleven tracks. With reference points ranging from Vangelis to Duncan Jones’ film Moon, the record is a surprising amalgamation of sci-fi scores and blunt emotions.
For a bit of context, the band’s drummer Fredrik Blond—who was heavily involved in the record’s recording process—gives a breakdown of each song on the record. Stream the album in full and see what Blond had to say below.
1. “Things We Do for Love”
The title track and first single. This song went through a lot of stages while being written. I think the first version was made many years ago, but it was just one of those tracks that never got finished. We have quite a few of those, but eventually we were able to go back and finish it with a few new chords and melodies.
Lyrically it’s pretty self-explanatory, I think. It’s about how we sometimes lose ourselves when we are in love and do and say things we wouldn’t normally. Something I think most people can relate to. The drums and bass are solid, the keys and guitars are spicy, and the production is filled with little groovy details. I really love the guitar solo and the outro, too.
2. “Safe and Sound”
The second single. This track has a flow to it, and it brings you along. It has that driving-in-a-car-late-at-night feeling. The pulsating groove is a mix between live and programmed drums, the bass and the synth arpeggio. Personally, it’s a song that makes me feel more than it makes me think, and I really like that about it. Love the vocal delivery, too, and the driving synth melody of the chorus.
An emotional track that starts off with a little Vangelis-inspired soundscape. I like how all the instruments fit together so nicely on this track. The drums are pretty basic here, Johan’s bass and Felix’s guitar are gently groovy, leaving lots of space for the vocals. Jesper’s keys are in the back just setting the mood, but are released at the end together with the guitar melody. The a capella breakdown is cool too, very unusual for us.
Surprise—the song is about changes! Our band was going through a rough time when this song was written.
4. “Bonnie and Clyde”
One of the more pop-sounding songs of the album, and sort of a duet between Maja and Felix. I think it was based on a demo that Felix had made in his home studio and then the track was built from that. I haven’t asked what the song is about, but I’m gonna go ahead and guess that it’s some kind of a love story.
The production, again, is a blend of live and programmed instruments. It changes shape a little when the breakdown comes, and then it goes back to the chorus again. I like the playful guitars on the track a lot, and they become more prominent in the outro.
Another song with a pulsating arpeggio—the drums are dry and Johan’s bass is driving, the keyboards and guitar lay on top and add a lot of texture. Somehow it sounds both kind of ’80s and modern at the same time. I’m not totally sure, but I think that this song came out of another one that was scrapped halfway through the recording of it. I guess sometimes one idea has to die for another one to be born.
In the break, everything is brought down and it lets the listener breathe a little while the music slowly builds back up again under Maja’s vocals. I like this track a lot on the record, but I love playing it live even more.
A different-sounding song for us, Maja sings the verses in a totally different style than usual and I think that’s what sets it apart a little from some of the other tracks. The chorus is much more straightforward, both musically and vocally.
This was the last song to be added to the album, so it was written and recorded at the same time. While recording an album, I think that it’s a good idea to have a lot of it mapped out beforehand, but not everything. It’s good to leave some songs—or at least parts of songs—open so that you can feel creative in the studio and not feel that you are just re-recording stuff that was already on the demo.
7. “Dreaming of You”
Jesper and I were very influenced by movie soundtracks while writing this. Sometimes when you write a song the lyrics come first and sometimes the music comes first—and on rare occasions, at least for me, they come at the same time. But on this one I clearly remember that the music came first.
It’s very atmospheric and sci-fi-sounding, and heavy on the keyboards. In fact, it was so heavy that it crashed the computer several times during the recording and for a while we called it “the crash song.” Both the music and the lyrics are inspired by the movie Moon—a great movie, by the way, you should check it out!
8. “Dim the Lights”
Strange but fun arrangement on this one, I really like the breakdown that eventually goes into a solo. Lots of vintage keyboards and rock guitars in the production. I remember that this song started out a lot slower on the very first demo of it, I think we sped up the tempo at least twice before the final version. And maybe we changed the key, too, I’m not sure. There were a lot of things going on with the recording of this album—we were the writers, performers, arrangers, producers, and engineers, so some of the memories are kind of a blur.
9. “Stay Free”
I made the demo of this song at home in my apartment. I wanted to make a fast and easy song. Looking back at it now, it’s pretty clear that it is showcasing a lot of the frustrations I was feeling at the time, about life, love, and everything. Nobody likes feeling frustrated or angry or sad, but I find that it can be very useful for writing songs. And if I’ve been feeling angry for a whole day, but have managed to get a song out of it, then at least it hasn’t been a wasted day.
I remember that we experimented with quite a few different amps and pedals to get the perfect “shitty” guitar sound for the song, and I’m very happy with the results. Also, I think it might be the only song on the album without any keyboards.
This song was made solely by Felix and Maja. I didn’t play or write anything on it, so when I listen to it I get to experience it just like everybody else, which is kind of a cool thing in and of itself. It’s not often that you get to do that in a band that you’ve played in for over twenty years.
I hear a little bit of Yazoo influences in the production. Very personal lyrics with great delivery.
Another one where the music was very influenced by movie soundtracks—the beginning of the song sounds like it could be in Scarface or something. Jesper’s ’80s keys are very dark and menacing. Really sets the tone.
It’s a very dark song overall, so my favorite part might be the middle where the vibe changes a little bit and there’s a glimmer of hope. The lyrics are about someone who passed away. About being back years later in the city where it happened, where it all went wrong, and having a panic attack about the whole thing.