Your starter for 10; What do The Concretes have in common with Judith Charmers (No knickers required!), Fred Durst and Pink Floyd? Well, for the most part, according to founding member Lisa, it's that they all Wish You Were Here! Or him, on occasion, you can choose your own title to suit apparently.
WYWH, is the fourth full length album from Swedish Indie popsters The Concretes. Not exactly a prolific output from one time trio, now octet, formed in Stockholm back in 1995. WYWH serves as the follow up to the groups difficult 3rd album 'Hey Trouble'. Having lead singer, and cofounder, Victoria Bergsman serve short notice preferring her own side project of Taken By Trees to that of her established and regarded associates meant that the limelight of leading lady, and key vocalist, would fall upon Lisa Milberg the bands drummer. "Petrified" is how she describes her experience of being lead singer. Having had time to comes to terms with both the loss of Victoria and her own redeployment WYWH comes with a more sophisticated, accomplished and coherent sound than all 3 of its predecessors.
Dubbed a 'Disco' album, but done in a Concretes way, WYWH doesn't exactly sound as if its going to be necessarily.......... any good. Thoughts of recent, or most for that matter, Scissor Sisters disasters spring to mind. "Fighting Fire With Fire, Fire With Fire...." Spare me please. Thankfully it is nowhere near the NY nausea.
'Good Evening', the April single, starts the album off with a subdued dance beat, introverted guitar notes and Lisa's soft, warm, welcoming and enveloping voice. You're almost drawn in by stealth, the subtlety of the vocals blanket the instrumentation as it gradually builds and breaks. Rising momentarily for each chorus, the pace and delivery are somewhere betwixt First Aid Kit and Goldfrapp. 'My Ways' brings more electronica to the fore with a delicate Scandinavian touch and some playfully addictive hooks.
'Crack in The Paint' and 'I Wish We'd Never Met' slow things down with more sombre tales of dreams and unrequited love. The voice and the compositions are married exquisitely as Lisa sings the haunting melancholy beautifully.........
'I wish we'd never met,
I wish you never got them thoughts into your head,
that you needed me, for a while you wouldn't let it lie.
I wish we'd never met,
I wish I wouldn't be so easily impressed,
I wish I didn't feel the need for you to see me."
Energy and perkiness are restored for the slinky sway of 'All Day'. With a seductive air and hint of Grace Jones, until the "stay in bed all day, all day" chorus the atmosphere of dimly lit late 80's clubs hangs heavy in the air. 'What We've Become' has more synth and sequencer soundscapes to accompany the smoky vocal notes. The song, although almost starting with an Eastenders closing cliff hanger theme, works not least because of the retro arrangement of guitar/electro (A little Chew Lips), and the great lyrics......"What d'ya say we leave this perfectly good party you and I, go have our own. We can drink Whiskey play songs by Squeeze, John Cale and Paul Simon, and we could talk all through the night." All delivered up in a brief 2mins and 29secs.
A slight imbalance occurs on 'Oh My Love' where the overall quality briefly wanes through a twee folk/pop/Euro nursery rhyme style delivery and production. 'KNCK KNCK' revives WYWH with some Propaganda style beats and vocals. Gathering tempo for the chorus, the multi-layered vocals get more free rein to sit proud of the cascading percussion. 'Sing For Me' further distances the album from its disco yearnings in a light and airy, floating delicate swirl of orchestration. The title track wraps up the 10 tracks, encapsulating all before it without shining as a beacon of one of its more illuminating moments.
WYWH is a return to form for The Concretes and delivers a very well produced, cohesive and above all extremely pleasurable album. Requiring not too much attention but managing to wash over you in waves of aural delight. The sound, whilst heralding a lean towards a new direction, is rich and absorbing rather than challenging or pioneering. The Concretes are due out on tour in the forthcoming weeks, and on the back of WYWH they'd be well worth catching.