The Concretes- WYWH (Something In Construction)
Welcome to 2010! Things are scary here! The World is in the midst of a global recession, which may or may not get worse due to banks being even more greedy (despite being bailed out by public money), but isn't like to get better thanks to an unelected governments cuts on all public sector and arts and pretty much everything. There are lunatics in America, calling for a new right wing fundamentalism, complaining that Obama isn't doing enough, those claiming that they are embarrassed that they are black and he is black too. In fact 2010 has been a pretty good year to be bitter, angry and heartbroken, and suprisingly WYWH is also a perfect record to be bitter, angry and heartbroken to.
None of those words would essentially be paired with the Stockholm pop band Concretes, a band best known for their two incredible poppy singles from their debut album. The Concretes songs were poppy and sparky and twee and even at their more bleak moments there was still a wistful innocence, a second chance, a new tomorrow, whether in the lyrics or in the click click of the accompaniment, on "New Friend" (2002) despite it's regret of a ended friendship, the protagonist is still open for the other person to call them, and despite the departure of lead singer Victoria Bergsman, their third album was still undetered, former drummer and now frontwoman Lisa Milsburg walked away like Renee and the lush orchestration remained in tact, in fact if anything Hey Trouble (2007) signalled a brighter day tomorrow as "Simple Song" (2007) disappeared with a plodding electronic beat and a upbeat brass and guitar line... The Concretes did their pop very well, a mixture of interesting percussion, sixties influenced guitar harmonies and a great and often suprising mix of orchestration....
The Concretes WYWH is akin to seeing a once eternally optimistic friend after several years, beaten up and bruised after the one they thought was the one has kicked them face and shat out their heart. WYWH doesn't give up the pop ear that the previous records have but the words are heavier and from wearier hearts. Opening Track and first single "Good Evening" is all sparse with a single disco like beat and a downtempo guitar line (one of the most noticable guitar lines on the album, as it is mostly absent), the lyrical themes on the album are mostly regretful stories about a relationship gone sour, begging partners asking for second chances and a heavily bitter conclusion of what is essentially no. "My Ways" tells of a soured relationship as one half of the relationship abruptly says on a date that they've lost what they had, the chorus is the heartbreaking "if you take me back I will change... I can promise more than I try, I'll try and try..." with a real sense of apologetic emptiness.
Lyrically, the album has a couple of very close moments which are brutally honest with a real sense of ill ease and hatred towards the other person, almost too difficult for the listener to hear. WYWH also deals with post-break up songs and stories of going out a lot to escape these feelings. "I wish we never met, I wish you'd never got them thoughts into your head, now you needed me for a while you wouldn't let it lie, I wish we never met, I wish I wasn't so easily impressed, I wish I didn't feel the need for you to see me," are an example of some of the saddest, while "What We've Become" spouts domestic memories before crooning the soul disco esque "I just wouldn't believe it, I just couldn't see it..." The album also cleverly progresses, as the title track seems to hint at some togetherness/self recovery as she bids with a knowing goodbye "Wish you Were here
Muscially, The Concretes have really paired back from their huge sounding distorted tracks, most contain a consistant (disco-esque) beat, and a guitar line that is mostly accompanied by some sort of dominant synth. Together they work very well, the spareness and the base selection of the odd orchestration on the album compliments the darkness of the lyrics suitably. The production is crisp and clean and mainstream seeking, many songs are potential dancefloor hitters. The problem is that a minority of the songs fail to differentiate from each other enough to make every song a bonafide success, they just beat along to the a silmilar single drum beat, awaiting the chorus to come along, and sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. which is the one great criticism of the album, because in so many ways this is the most daring and bold move the swedish popsters have made since their debut. WYWH is however on the most parts a sad, blunt and sonically soulful record, which shows a band ready to take a step forward and find a new sound and a new direction and most importantly recover from any previous setbacks made by themselves or people they once loved. 7.5/10