About 60 people or so turned up at the Black Cat backstage Monday night to see what two well regarded Swedish rockers had to offer in combining their talents as We Are Serenades as they kicked off a US tour in DC. It turned out that indie rockers Adam Olenius of the Shout Out Louds and Markus Krunegard of Laakso were interested in making fewer fuzzed out sounds with their guitars and instead seek to build sweet harmonies armed with a largely twee-pop repertoire of… well, serenades.
The five-piece band certainly did not abandon guitars, however, as Olenius and Krunegard demonstrated the strength of their concept by trading off vocals and sharing guitar duties. But they were augmented by a keyboard, a synthesizer and drums as they offered up about 10 songs largely about being in love and appreciating nature. The two vocalists looked comfortable with their material and the five-member band seems poised for larger spaces. Olenius and Krunegard were easygoing and earnest and their vocals were perhaps the most crystal clear I’ve ever heard in the back of the Cat, making for a wholly pleasant listening experience. While all quite twee, their songs ranged a bit from familiar guitar rock numbers to more dance pop selections.
For me in their better moments, We Are Serenades get a little new wavey, almost sounding a bit like their countrymen in The Mary Onettes, although without the urgency and full-throated crooning that characterize the older band. We Are Serenade’s full-on dance number “Weapons,” for example, has a bouncy new wave synthline that makes for a pleasant distraction but it still politely invites you to come dancing rather than forcefully compelling you to do so. Their latest single, “Criminal Heaven” (which is the title track from their debut record), provides more opportunities for the duo vocalists to harmonize, which they do surprisingly well, and to generate more guitar pop.