Nov 09, 2010 Issue #33 - Fall 2010 - Interpol
The Concretes' fourth album, WYWH, represents the band's return to stateside audiences for the first time since Victoria Bergsman, the singer and songwriter who helmed the band's early success, left the band after 2006's In Colour. The new Concretes, now led by drummer Lisa Milberg, released an album in 2007, Hey Trouble, but that album was never released stateside and, as such, WYWH, marks a return of sorts for the Swedish pop darlings. Except, since Bergman's departure, The Concretes have become an entirely different band. Gone are the upbeat pop songs and multi-instrumental twee that made the band's first two albums so engaging, replaced instead by a laidback disco sheen.
Anyone expecting to hear something similar to the trio of songs Milberg wrote for In Colour-"Your Call," "Grey Days," and the dynamite album closer, "Song for the Songs"—will be sorely disappointed. Those songs represented Milberg's breakout songwriting efforts, slices of perfected pop high on melody, but on WYWH, Milberg instead plays a bleary-eyed Nico to a Velvet Undergound that traffics in synthy, rhythmic lounge. If there is one adjective to best describe WYWH, it might be "smooth." "Good Evening" is smooth and seductive. "My Ways" is smooth and pulsating with a slinky melody and Milberg's just-above-a-whisper begging, "Honey, take me back/I will change." One can still hear the old Concretes' knack for melody through the rhythmic charge and siren wail of "What We've Become," but this is no longer the focus. It's as if Milberg has completely abandoned the playful pop of her earlier days and emerged a sort of jaded, Swedish Sade, singing of heartbreak and full of lament.
None of this is to say that WYWH is a bad album. It's just not The Concretes of old; in fact, there is little sonically to connect to two incarnations. Smooth, saucy, and seducing it surely is. But still, with the name The Concretes, it's hard not to pine at least somewhat for that old melody-rich pop sound. (www.theconcretes.tumblr.com)
Author rating: 5/10
Average reader rating: 7/10