Indie new-wave kids across the world fell in love with the Sounds when the Swedish band released Living in America in 2002. On Crossing the Rubicon, they prove they still know how to make indie new-wave sound cool. The album's opener, "No One Sleeps When I'm Awake," starts with a sleepy guitar before rushing into Maja Ivarsson's signature staccato voice. As she sings "Listen up, I've got confessions to make/No one sleeps when I'm awake," it's clear Crossing the Rubicon is one of the band's most forceful collections of songs. The Sounds keep up the pace with the soul-infused "4 Songs & a Fight." Even as the song spirals out of control at the end, Ivarsson's voice remains crisp and dominant. "My Lover" sounds like the band trying to accomplish a number of musical styles in a brisk three minutes.
Not everything on Crossing the Rubicon works this well. "Beatbox" mixes African beats and hip-hop vocals, but aims too hard for the dance floor. "Crossing the Rubicon" feels like an interlude instead of a title track, bridging the line between artful and creepy — and leaning dangerously close to the latter. Still, there are plenty of great moments on the album: "Dorchester Hotel," for instance, showcases the band at its best, and "Home Is Where the Heart Is" is a catchy updated twist on the old adage. Crossing the Rubicon is a strong showcase for both the Sounds and new wave.
— Brittany Moseley
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