The Swedes have produced the best album of their career to date.
Tom Hocknell 2010-11-03
Since 2000, fans of Swedish guitar pop band The Concretes had grown accustomed to regular album releases – right up until 2007’s Hey Trouble, which barely acknowledged the departure of lead vocalist Victoria Bergsman, who left in 2006 to pursue her Taken by Trees project. It has been quiet since then, with this being only The Concretes’ second album since Lisa Milberg filled Bergsman’s shoes. However, while neither vocalist possesses a classic voice, Milberg carries a similarly smouldering torch for injured love, and singing in English, her second language, adds additional charm to proceedings.
The band has declared this album as being disco-influenced, and while there is evidence of cowbell and piano riffs, they haven’t gone turned into Earth, Wind & Fire. This is slacker disco, for those feeling too uncool to actually dance. But they have tightened their sound to more exacting disco standards. And it suits them: their line up of eight or so members has occasionally cluttered previous material.
Good Evening starts the album with an uncharacteristic electronic, Balearic groove, its aching guitar riff coming across like a nocturnal Kool & The Gang. It has a false ending and leaves a hole when it finally departs. It is the best thing they have ever done. My Ways picks up this dance baton: a pounding house beat and jangled guitar are joined by the usual charity shop array of accordions and other instruments, but with department store exactness.
The jittery All Day and I Wish We’d Never Met shows they have lost none of their bedsit angst ("I wish I wasn’t so easily impressed," Milberg sighs, over a piano lament of which Badly Drawn Boy would be proud). It’s evidence that The Concretes are improving with each album, and the deep house-influenced title-track WYWH closes the album in as lush a manner as it began. For a band that lost their founding singer they remain in excellent voice and these warm, intimate songs make perfect autumnal listening. If this isn’t one of the albums of 2010, then it is certainly the album of their career.