Plumbiferous Media

WYWH - The Concretes

Oct 10th 2010
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WYWH - The ConcretesThe Concretes
Score: 61

Swedish indie-pop band The Con­cretes has released a fourth LP, WYWH, their first since 2007. The Con­cretes def­i­nite­ly has a bit of fun in nam­ing its releas­es, and that ener­gy con­tin­ues to be present in their albums. But while WYWH is often light­ly enjoy­able, much of it is some­what dif­fi­cult to stand by. The bal­ance between unwa­ver­ing pop and some­thing a bit more seri­ous and pro­found is just not quite present on WYWH, and the album cer­tain­ly takes a few hits as a result.

Func­tion­ing at its best, The Con­cretes’s music evokes an image of a dras­ti­cal­ly slowed down, com­plete­ly relaxed club. Those tracks of WYWH strike a per­fect bal­ance between the heavy bass and lack­ing midrange inher­ent to catchy, enjoy­able club dance music while still main­tain­ing the melod­ic neces­si­ties of music that is enjoy­able entire­ly as music. When this suc­cess is achieved, the result is entire­ly unique, and quite frankly excel­lent. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, much of WYWH fails to rise to this lev­el. Far too many tracks of the album are entire­ly too sim­i­lar, entire­ly too repet­i­tive, and entire­ly unlike many of the excel­lent tracks such as “Good Evening.” Even more unfor­tu­nate­ly, the set of dull tracks far out­num­bers the excel­lent tracks, leav­ing Maria Eriks­son, the lead vocal­ist, to slave away through the slop that is much of WYWH.

Eriksson’s vocals, occa­sion­al­ly aug­ment­ed by back­up vocals com­ing from the rest of the band, are best described as ethe­re­al - airy in that seem­ing­ly bot­tom­less way that, when done prop­er­ly, gives a voice, as well as the music it accom­pa­nies, con­sid­er­able depth. Eriks­son does­n’t man­age a per­fect ver­sion of this approach, but she cer­tain­ly does a decent job at it. The vocals meld well with the spacey sound of WYWH, cre­at­ing an ampli­fy­ing effect that bet­ter expos­es the strengths in both ele­ments. At cer­tain points, echo effects are a bit overused, but it’s gen­er­al­ly only for a moment, and they’re not so overt as to ruin the tone of Eriksson’s voice.

On the whole, WYWH is well-writ­ten. The album tends toward melan­choly love songs and the like - unsur­pris­ing giv­en the tone of the music. It’s not exact­ly an unex­plored field of lyrics, but The Con­cretes prove them­selves to be skilled enough to excuse that lack of orig­i­nal­i­ty. WYWH is a mix­ture of sto­ries, images and eupho­nious phras­es, all com­bined in a way that gives the album an impres­sive atmos­phere. Whether Eriks­son is singing the sim­ple but thought-pro­vok­ing “When you call / You will let me down / I will let me down” or the more poet­ic “Sing for me about let­ting go / Sing for me / Sing a song about love and loss,” The Con­cretes have done a very good job match­ing their words to their songs - and then giv­ing them mean­ing on top of that.

Over­all, WYWH is cer­tain­ly an inter­est­ing album. The Con­cretes have com­bined a rich sound­scape, the pure sound of Eriksson’s voice, and well-writ­ten lyrics to form a album that is well put togeth­er. At the same time, how­ev­er, WYWH isn’t per­fect - over-rep­e­ti­tion (more present in the music than the words, but in turns in both) dis­tracts from the sound of the album and pre­vents it from being as excel­lent as it could, and the album cer­tain­ly isn’t with­out its dry­er spots. Nev­er­the­less, WYWH is, in the end, some­what more good than bad. It could, how­ev­er, have been much, much better.

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