The Concretes
The Concretes
/astralwerks; 2005/


Few female vocalists can make me feel so vulnerable when under their spell that if someone walked by me while in this state, that person would be able to pick my lint-filled pockets with assured success. I become a helpless little puppy in the warm embrace of these incredible voices, and I would protect and defend them with the ferocity of someone in love if they were in need. The Concretes’ Victoria Bergsman is the best yet. Her voice is the sound of that exquisitely dressed shy girl you wish you would have talked to in high school, the sound of honey dripping over your breakfast cereal, and it is the only thing you think about/want to hear when this disc is within reach. If it were possible for one to date a voice, I would have proposed long ago. This could have been an a capella record and I would have still been totally in love, but lucky for us every aspect about this release is a sweet testament to the power of melancholic indie-pop. Or more specifically, that feeling of isolation when you find yourself alone in a crowd.

This, The Concretes debut if you don’t count the 2000 EP comp Boy, You Better Run Now, is an album for the metropolitan. The countryside, road trips and life at home tales can be left to modern alt-country outfits like Sun Kil Moon. This record is for you to listen to while in a busy cafe, navigating through your cities downtown core, or while waking up in the morning knowing that you have a full day of in-the-city lonliness ahead of you. Now, I know that countless records can fit this bill, but I'll bet cash money that they won't sound as lush and sad and sweet as The Concretes. One needs these sort of diversions to remind us that we can all find comfort in the shared, accessible pop realm of loneliness. I don’t know about you but I couldn’t listen to noise rock or trip hop 24/7. And if you in fact can, stay the hell away from me.

“You Can’t Hurry Love” should have been on every college radio show playlist of the year. It’s a rush of slightly fuzzed guitars accompanied by warm trumpets, bouncy keyboard, and that wonderfully comforting voice. “Chico” and “New Friend” are late-night walk home songs that would keep any hopeless romantic company as the snow gently begins to fall. Almost all of the songs have a certain frosty aesthetic to their sound; the strings and piano are used to maximum twilight hour effect. But cold is the last thing that this record is. It is a warm blanket wrapped around your lonely shoulders, offering you the solace of a friend who has been there before. When discussing the band, everyone seems to like to talk about where The Concretes are from (Stockholm), and how many members there are (10?). These interesting bits of anecdotal info may be intriguing, but it is the comforting sound of this record that will garner most of its fans.

- Andrew Iliadis

/mar 1st 2005/