Release Date: Jun 29, 2004
Record label: Astralwerks / Licking Fingers
Genre(s): Indie, Pop
Four years after their wonderful EP collection Boy, You Better Run Now was released by the star-crossed indie imprint Up Records (whose founder, Chris Takino, died of leukemia shortly after Boy, You Better Run Now's release), the Concretes return with The Concretes, their proper full-length debut and first album for Astralwerks. Because of the somewhat dodgy distribution of the singles and EPs that came after Boy, You Better Run Now, The Concretes might sound like even more of a departure from the band's early work to stateside Concretes fans. The spare, spry indie pop of the group's first releases has been replaced by a sugar-coma maximalism, overflowing with horns, strings, harps, and mandolins.
This Swedish eight-piece is half band, half cottage industry: they design their own sleeves, direct their own animated videos and, for good measure, are sending their trumpet player to help install Stockholm's congestion-charge system. But there is less here than meets the eye. Their feathery homage to the Cardigans and the Cowboy Junkies features the full complement of distantly lowing horns and sleepy-eyed vocals (by Victoria Bergsman), which maintain their charm for longer than you might expect.
The Concretes cut a stylistic path an inch wide and a mile deep. Aficionados of ‘60s pop music, they're dedication to orchestral pop music results in such a remarkable consistency throughout the 11 songs on their debut album that they carve a distinct trench for themselves, entirely separate from those of their historically minded peers. The Shins? No, Brian Wilson does not cast much of a shadow on this album.