Release Date: Nov 9, 2010
Record label: Friendly Fire
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, Swedish Pop/Rock, Twee Pop
The Concretes have always been masters of pop and with WYWH the band pushes beyond the current obsession for Euro-beat synth disco pervading everything. Instead, using those same sounds, the band makes music that is actually dark, sultry, sexy, genuinely disco—and about half the speed of everything else. It’s bookended by classics; “Good Evening” and “WYWH” are sex with a drumbeat and strobe light, as Lisa Milberg’s voice finds the perfect place between haunting and seductive.
The Concretes have created their fair share of delights while living at the front of the Swedish indie pop movement — tracks from In Colour still pop into my head on regular occasion — so it’s with some interest that WYWH launches into things with a style more akin to modern incarnations of disco. As appealing as this newly energized sound may be — and don’t get me wrong, it’s full of fun — it’s a bit relieving that the entire album doesn’t bounce around recklessly. It’s all done with an eye to the sound The Concretes have developed over time, and while there is new energy permeating this record, it all very much feels in the vein of the group.
Lose your popular lead singer and who knows what’ll happen to your band. You and your bandmates can flounder for several years before hiring a Filipino guy you first heard on YouTube to belt out universally-adored rock ballads (Journey). You could find a capable replacement who lacks your ex-lead singer’s affinity for spandex, and feel grateful you can ride your talented guitarist to massive commercial success (Van Halen).
The press release (sorry, it’s going to be one of those intros) accompanying The Concretes' fourth album refers to the band as eight piece, but come accompanied only by a picture of a blonde lady in some fetching spangly hotpants. This is of course Lisa Milberg, WYWH is her second record fronting the Swedish band, and clearly thing have changed since the days when Victoria Bergsman helmed this ship (a time when most of the band’s publicity images seemed to consist of weird drawings of cats). In fact, comparing the smooth disco beats, lovelorn lyrics and solo frontwoman vibe of WYWH to the lo-fi, Motown referencing, cryptic lyric-ed, girl gang-ish image of the Bergsman days, one wonders if the only thing that stopped the band changing names was that they felt silly doing so when there were still so many of them.
Review Summary: The Concretes are dead, long live The Concretes!It feels both apocalyptic and a little bit condescending to refer to the current situation in The Concretes’ career as post-Bergsman. In literal terms, the label is absolutely accurate and it is hard to dispute that their former leading vocalist was very much the soul of the band’s first four releases – particularly the excellent self-titled album – but lest we forget, The Concretes are an eight-person band. Hey Trouble, their first record following Bergsman’s departure to pursue her solo project Taken By Trees, was very hit-or-miss, executed exactly the way you would expect a band still picking up the pieces to react.
Remaining Concretes Fail to Leave an Impression When Victoria Bergsman left the Concretes in 2006, she kicked off her solo career with a bang, contributing a verse to Peter Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks” and releasing her own record the next year. Her former bandmates haven’t had such an easy time. On Hey Trouble, their first album without Bergsman, they roughed up the polish of 2006’s In Color by focusing on swirling, jangling pop/rock, with percussionist Lisa Milberg abandoning her drumsticks to become the band’s new vocalist.
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.
Three years have passed since the last Concretes album, and indeed, this isn't the same band that once soundtracked Target commercials with its ebullient indie pop. Amidst time off wherein the Swedish octet's members dabbled in other interests -- side projects, raising children, and, in at least one instance, joining the circus -- things have changed. Instead of purveying the band's usual ain't-broke-so-don't-fix-it twee, WYWH is being pushed as a quote-unquote “disco” album.
In some ways it's very easy to understand why a band would keep its name after their very distinct lead singer has departed. Name recognition will ensure a certain number of people will pay attention to your new music and come out to shows. Hell, some bands, such as Pink Floyd and Genesis, became only more successful after their charismatic original singer left the group.
The Concretes are the picture of a Band Whose Star Has Fallen. Back in 2003, their self-titled debut LP was celebrated for its stylish slices of pop swathed in early Velvet Underground haze. As subsequent albums revealed a more polished side to the band, however, this enthusiasm began to cool in some circles.
It’s now two records and four years since singer Victoria Bergsman fucked off, and while she’s musically explored Pakistan on her solo project [a]Taken By Trees[/a]’ [b]‘East Of Eden[/b]’, [a]The Concretes[/a] still feel like a band that’ve had their heads lopped off but are too busy legging it around the yard to do the decent thing and drop dead. It’s not even that ‘[b]WYWH[/b]’ is that bad an album; opener ‘[b]Good Evening[/b]’ is a beautiful, brooding six-and-a-half minutes of classy slo-mo disco, while ‘[b]Oh My Love[/b]’ harks back to their Velvets-aping beginnings. It’s just that it all feels so pointless and half-arsed that it’s impossible to muster more than an apathetic shrug in judgement.
The Swedes have produced the best album of their career to date. Tom Hocknell 2010 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.