[rating: 3/4]

“Crossing the Rubicon” the latest offering from Swedish synth-pop quintet The Sounds, borrows its name from a phrase meaning “to pass a point of no return.” Historically, it refers to the act of war Julius Caesar committed by crossing the Rubicon River in Northern Italy in 49 B.C.

So it would be perfectly understandable to wonder if the band is exploring new sonic territory on their latest offering, which hits shelves June 2. What’s ironic, though, given this context, is that the strongest moments on “Crossing the Rubicon” “" and there are many “" emerge when the band sticks to the winning formula it honed on 2006’s “Dying to Say This to You” “" danceable guitar riffs and synthesizers on top of upbeat rhythms.

“Crossing the Rubicon” starts on a high note, with the infectious, guitar-heavy first single “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake” and continues with a handful of equally catchy tunes, including the New Wave-y “4 Songs and a Fight” and delightfully bizarre Blondie homage “Beatbox.”

Unfortunately though, the 12-song offering loses some of its steam in‚ its final third, with the later songs failing to reach the extremely high bar set by the first ones. The title track, which sounds like gothic monks singing over an excerpt from a dramatic movie score, marks the middle point, and its placement is jarring to say the least “" especially since it’s book-ended by the accessible “Midnight Sun” and “Underground.”

Alternative Pop
Original Signal Recordings
June 2, 2009

The Sounds will spend much of the summer on the road, having landed the opening slot on several dates of No Doubt’s reunion tour. Like the headliner, they are anchored by a powerful frontwoman “" sassy singer Maja Ivarsson, whose vocals range from pained to empowered “" backed by male supporting musicians who tend to stay in the background.

Their position on the No Doubt tour, combined with the band’s decision to stream “Crossing the Rubicon” in its entirety nearly a week before its official release date, indicate the band is trying to expand its American fanbase. Their radio-friendly pop is likely to win over some early-arriving audience members.

About The Author

Elizabeth Raftery is senior editor of Blast. Follow her on Twitter.

51 Responses

  1. selena

    Great review, I do love this band. I disagree about the last 3rd of the album but hey 🙂

    • Katiethebeat

      I think this review is good.Although I don’t agree with the last part of the album being sucky but whatever I love this band!

  2. Ahlen

    I like the review a lot, though, I don’t completely agree with you when you write that the album last “loses some of its steam in its final third”. Maybe some of the last songs aren’t as outstanding as the songs in the beginning of the album, but at least “Lost in Love” is definitely one of the best. Though, I’m glad that you seemed to like the album.

  3. Jess

    Its a positive review and I admire this band greatly. Fantastic work, and yes, I may agree with the 4th paragraph just a tiny wee bit, nothing compares to the Living In America, but Crossing The Rubicon is awesome!!

  4. dansamedmig

    I am sure that the title refers more to the band’s break from their previous major label and the act of pouring all of their money into forming their own label, rather than a break from their established sound. All in all, the album is solid, the lyrical and musical abilities of the band have matured, and this effort showcases the heart and soul of the band like fans have never seen it before.

  5. Devan

    I cant wait to see the SOUNDS on tour with No Doubt this summmer! In fact, Ill be screaming my head off in 12 days! I already love this album and have worn out my cd on the first day! All the tracks are amazing!!!If you don’t already have it, get it 😉

  6. Lety G.

    The album as a whole is amazing and that includes the final third.
    Ive been waiting so long for this album and it definitely did not dissapoint.
    The Sounds prove once again why they are my favorite band, because they make amazing music!! Cant wait to see them this summer!!

  7. Bree

    I think this album is absolutely amazing! I didn’t know i could love this band more than i already did. “Midnight Sun” is a great song and by far my favorite!

  8. Stephanie

    I don’t feel The Sounds are loosing their steam at all. They’re growing and getting stronger, hence becoming even better! This album really balanced out it’s dance grooves, and it’s “slow” songs. I really enjoyed the album! It’s out now, and I really recommend it to everyone seeking new, unique music.

  9. Sharon

    I think this album is great. The first single “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake” is amazing, one of my favorites! I like the title track, love how the whole band is singing. My other faves are “Beatbox” and “Midnight Sun”
    Can’t wait to see them headline in the fall!

  10. Vanessa

    Love the new single and the songs on the new record are amazing! Everyone buy the new CD!!! It is worth every cent! 🙂 Visit there website: the-sounds.com or myspace.com/thesounds to listen to the album.

  11. Lori

    I love this album and I don’t think the 3rd of the album is weaker in any way but what can I say, I’m just a bias fan.

  12. Amy

    I like this review as well, but i strongly disagree with the last the 3rd of the album part. The whole cd is amazing, i love each song!

  13. Christina

    I am glad that the overall review is positive, but along with several other people’s comments, I tend to disagree about the part that the album loses steam in the final 1/3. I am very happy that the Sounds are trying something different, even if they aren’t as catchy as the first songs of the album. I find it tiring when a band creates an album where all the songs sound very similar. “Midnight Sun” is one of my favorite songs of the album. I feel that the songs at the end of the album are perfectly placed because by the final 1/3 of the album, I am already too tired from dancing to the music. That’s my interpretation, but overall a good balanced review.

  14. JuJu

    the album is so great! I love 4 Songs & a Fight and Lost In Love. wonderful! The Sounds are really fun! can’t wait to see them on tour.

  15. Merrijoy

    Great, great review. I love The Sounds and I just got my album today and gave it a straight-through listen. I do sort of agree with the loss of steam toward the end but they are very listenable as well. overall a solid album! I can’t wait to see them w/ No Doubt in DC.

  16. jenna

    the sounds deliver another amazing album. i don’t completely agree with this review, the entire album is amazing. i do like the fact that the sounds are trying to expand their fan-base to the us. i’ve been trying to get my friends to listen to them for years now. and when they finally do, they love it! i saw them play at the hollywood palladium last november. do not pass up the opportunity to see the sounds live. they put on an AMAZING show!

  17. Aaron

    easily the best album this year
    already got my mates hooked on them just by 1 listen of this record
    cant wait to see them in LA in july 😀

  18. Tash

    I completely agree with the other comments.. The album is fantastic the whole way through.. it doesnt lose steam in the last third
    But overall a really good review!

  19. Myofusion

    I think the review lost steam in the middle third.

    Overall, decent review of the album, but doesn’t do justice to their bands work on this set of songs. Great album, and the only thing better than having the album is seeing them live (go see a show….after you buy the album of course).

  20. Steve

    These guys just keep getting better and better with each release! “Crossing The Rubicon” is a must own CD. Can’t wait to see this guys this summer. If you have the opportunity, don’t miss ’em!

  21. blacksoul818

    well i love the album and i think that the long wait was so worth it

  22. Jessica

    I love the whole album.. I can’t wait to see them live pretty soon. It was worth the wait.

  23. Larissa

    I love the sounds.
    Their reasoning,like for the album name is
    always amazing. I’m too broke to buy the album right now,
    but i listen to it on myspace & it’s easily the best
    album of the year.

  24. Missuky

    I think this album is one of the best albums of the year!!!
    The Sounds is an amazing band and I know CROSSING THE RUBICON will be the best album!!! 😀


    I love The Sounds!!!

  25. Monique O'Toole

    Overall it’s a positive review, but I don’t completely agree with this guy. How do the rest of the songs fail from the first ones?!?!
    I love all three albums, but I particularly have a different kind of love for this one. It has some of the best songs that I have EVER heard. Read the lyrics. If you have a brain, you’ll know what I’m talking about. This album truly brings their talent to light.
    I can’t stop listening to it.

  26. Lisa

    I really love their third Album and it’s diffrent, but as good as the two albums before.
    You should listen to it carefully and you will recognize that all songs are amazing-not only the first parts.


  27. caitlin

    The article started off good. This record by The Sounds is great. I agree that the first half of the record is stronger but that doesn’t mean the other half is bad. There’s not a bad song on the whole record!! A must own record!

  28. Jean-Francois

    I really enjoy Crossing The Rubicon! Every song rocks and I can’t stop listening to it!

    Even if it’s all excellent, my favorite tracks are : My Lover, Beatbox, Underground, Midnight Sun and Lost In Love (tough to choose only 5)

  29. Cashsoul

    I love The Sounds and “Crossing the Rubicon” is amazing, I love it but I have to agree that it loses some of its steam in its final third, but eyyy its way better than most of the cd out there

  30. ellespea

    This is a good review but I think that all of the songs are great on this album, not just the first part of it. My favorite has to be “Beatbox.” It definitely reminds me of Blondie’s “Rapture” but totally different. I love this album just as much as the first two

  31. Ashley

    This is a freaking awesome album!! A good review, I do disagree about the last 3rd of the album, the entire album is great!!

  32. SoundGirl

    I love this CD. I just found out about The Sounds when I heard their song “Dorchester Hotel”. I then heard “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake” and really fell in love with this band. They have such a great sound that is addicting. The volume can never be high enough for most of these songs especially “Dorchester Hotel” and “NOSWIA”. I also thought it was cool to find out that the lead singer was also involved with the “Snakes On A Plane” video. She did such a great job on that video. This band is young, talented and will def be around for a long while.

  33. Tim Cohen

    Once again The Sounds have successfully made another amazing CD! I absolutely love listening to their new tracks over and over again! My track on their CD is “No one sleeps while I’m awake”. They are a really awesome and have the greatest respect for their fans! I thank them so much for signing their new CD for me!

  34. leiauealla

    Crossing The Rubicon makes me want to boogie woogie on the dance floor wearing pink and gold spandex with Elton John. It’s fantastic!

  35. SemixxErotic

    This is such a good Album as are the other two. I haven’t been able to buy it but I have listened to the songs and I really like them.

  36. Jeez

    The Sounds are amazing. They sound as good live as they do on there cd’s. “Crossing the Rubicon” is there newest cd and its a perfect addition to their discography.

  37. Megan Kravitz

    I love all three albums. Crossing The Rubicon is different than the other two, but it has its own unique feel to it. I love all of the songs on the album. They are amazing performers, and all of there music is the best I have ever heard. They are an amazing Swedish band!!

  38. Sierra

    I really like this album! The Sounds has really upbeat and unique music. All of there cds are good. You should go get them.

  39. Eric D

    i think the new album is amazing =]
    my fav song at the moment would probably have to be “dorchester hotel” or “underground,” but it changes every day or so since the album has so much to offer

  40. kiera

    excellent review! i have a lot of love for this band and am glad to see them doing something different. i feel that beatbox is a fresh idea for them and it’s definitely working. i can easily dance along with this record, it’s a fun listen!

  41. rant.

    Great review! I love The Sounds and their new album is simply amazing. I wish they’d come to Australia, but knowing my luck they won’t.

  42. hoffs

    Good review. The album definitely shifts gears with/after the Rubicon track, but not in a bad way. Midnight Sun is a great song. My Lover alone is worth the purchcase price. And Beatbox rocks — it sounds even better live.

  43. isola

    good review,the album really is great and so is the album,even if it has its flaws. The Sounds is a band that also gives so much more live and brings out new things from every song when they are on a stage so it doesnt matter so much if the songs are a bit slow on record, live,where the sounds belong,they will be fantastic.

  44. isola

    good review,the band really is great and so is the album,even if it has its flaws. The Sounds is a band that also gives so much more live and brings out new things from every song when they are on a stage so it doesnt matter so much if the songs are a bit slow on record, live,where the sounds belong,they will be fantastic.

  45. Jackie Shadows

    I really hope their American fanbase grows after they joined the No Doubt tour. They are one of my favorite bands to listen to and to see live. They are super energetic and fun on stage. I love love love their new album. The new melodies they’ve made are awesome. “My Lover and Beatbox” rock!

    Fan from Virginia, USA

  46. Charlie

    Great new, original album from The Sounds! Awesome live band, I’m blown away. This CD shows every side to the band. “Beatbox” has to be my favorite!

  47. Jillian

    The final thrid are just slower songs and that doesn’t mean they’re bad because of that. As I’m listening to a song I’ll think that this is the best song, then I’ll get to the next song and think the same thing and this happens for all the songs. Just to show all the songs are best! I was soo excited when i heard they were going on tour with No Doubt but when I checked the tour dates they would be on, they weren’t coming to my city 🙁 that was when they were going back to europe for some festivals. But hopefully they’ll come soon!

  48. Cate

    I don’t agree with the last part of the album going downhill but an opinion’s an opinion. I do think this album will give The Sounds the recognition they’ve been deserving. It is an excellent album and probably my favorite of the three. =)

  49. Elaine

    good review. except for the last part. i believe it was good throughout & and the so called “bad” songs of the album, midnight sun happens to be my favorite!


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