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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