Sounds bigger than ever in Sweden 

Maja Ivarsson doesn’t put much stock into the adage that you can never go home again.

Two years ago, as her Swedish power-pop combo the Sounds released its fourth album, “Something to Die For,” the blond bombshell made what she thought was a permanent move to Los Angeles. She fit in with its beach culture, and her then-new California beau, nicely.

But soon enough, she was pining for the fjords.

“I broke up with that boyfriend, so I live in Sweden now. And it has been a very crazy and super-intense year for me back there.”

Sensing that the Sounds, who play the Fillmore on Monday, had gotten too cerebral with “Something,” the vocalist and her bandmates flipped the script for their fifth release, “Weekend.” They disappeared into the spacious Gothenburg studio Svenska Grammaphon, where they resided for seven weeks, mastering every new song live before attempting to record it — the exact opposite of how they worked before.

The concept clicked. Effervescent songs such as “Animal,” “Great Day” and “Young and Wild” are the group’s punchiest since 2002’s Blondie-brilliant debut, “Living In America.”

While Ivarsson was rediscovering Sweden, Sweden was rediscovering her. She was invited onto the third season of one of the country’s most popular reality TV shows, which translates to “So Much Better.”

“They reach out to seven different artists each year, from seven different musical genres, seven different ages,” she says. “It’s not like ‘Jersey Shore’ — it’s serious television.”

The concept is simple: Everyone lives, eats and fraternizes together in a secluded summer house. “But each night, after dinner, we interpret each other’s songs. So to hear six different people performing Sounds tracks? Just a total surprise,” she says.

Another notable incident was when, worried that her broken tailbone hadn’t healed correctly, she Instagrammed a wish-me-luck message the day of her MRI. She says, “It ended up in the Swedish tabloids, with the headlines all exaggerating it like crazy — I was dying! Or in the emergency room!”

A brutally frank interview she did for national radio station P-1 for its annual “Summer in P-1” broadcast — in which she revealed abuse she suffered as a child — became the series’ most downloaded piece. Now, strangers feel so familiar with her, they approach her on the street just to chat.

All of these things combined have made the band even bigger in Sweden. She says, “We’ve always been big, but now I think Inga — 56 years old, from a tiny little village in the middle of nowhere — she knows about the Sounds, as well. Now everybody knows!”


The Sounds

Where: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Monday

Tickets: $25

Contact: (415) 346-6000,

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Tom Lanham

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