Shout Out Louds answer the call at sold-out El Rey



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It was evident from the preponderance of fans wearing horizontal stripes that there were a lot of Shout Out Louds lifers at the El Rey Theatre on Thursday night for the first of two sold-out shows by the Swedish quintet. Such brightly colored shirts were standard uniform for the band, and then their fans, in the early part of last decade, when the charming Scandinavians swept L.A. crowds (and Capitol Records execs) off their feet.

Still-swoonworthy frontman Alan Olenius acknowledged the long love affair three songs into the band’s set Thursday. “This is for all the people who saw us at Spaceland and the Troubadour back in the day,” he said, introducing 2004’s “Please Please Please” to rousing cheers, and the Shout Out Louds were off, keeping the crowd bouncing and making a nary a misstep (and to be fair, taking very few chances) for 75 minutes of their guitar- and synth-charged love entreaties.

Now that the fivesome is three albums into their career (“Work” came out in February on Merge), Olenius doesn’t sound quite as desperate for your love. But he still cuts a fine figure, whether channeling Robert Smith or doing the nasty with his agogo bells on “Tonight I Have to Leave It.” Icy hot keyboardist Bebban Stenborg was the perfect foil, adding sleek synth lines to Carl von Arbin’s prickly guitars and cooing serenely behind Olenius’ urgent pleas for intimacy. His is a lonesomeness that’s easy to relate to in this city, where car culture breeds isolation, and even if the edgy exigency of the early Shout Out Louds has given way to something a little bit slicker, the Swedes glowed in L.A. fans’ warm embrace.

Openers Freelance Whales’ sweet but precious orchestral pop suffered mightily on the big stage. The Brooklyners have vintage instruments, nerdy charm and some cute, winsome songs, but you’d think the El Rey was a playground and the crowd was the school bully from they way they projected their music.

||| Live: Shout Out Louds perform tonight with Minus the Bear, Everest and Young the Giant at Pomona’s Fox Theater.