The Concretes - The Concretes


Just get the Baileys and the Kleenex ready.


"Say Something New" creeps into the room like a sleepy cat. A maudlin guitar starts up and some mournful tambourines accompany it...Hmm... As you can imagine, all this sets the mood for some pretty wistful lyrics; "And all the things I had in mind for you and me..."

This album is very Swedish, bittersweet, and very much taken with Tamla Motown's output circa 1965. It's certainly not ashamed of that fact; indeed with one track called "Diana Ross" and another proudly entitled "You Can't Hurry Love", what the hell did you expect? Anyway, with the exception of two tracks, the album is a meander through some fairly low key 60s girl band love songs. Nowt wrong with that; just get the Baileys and the Kleenex ready.

As I said, there are but two up-tempo tracks on this album. The first of these, "You Can't Hurry Love", is such a bouncy puppy, all dayglo promise and hilariously out of sync with itself; smashing up the furniture with a wag of its tail. I'd love to hear an album full of this, as the band can obviously rock out to some effect.

Next up is "Chico" a song that starts off as a quiet confession 'twixt close friends behind the bike sheds; but with the shake of the hips it blossoms into a beautiful slow repeat chorus; all trumpets and tambourine. (Actually, at this juncture, I promise NOT to mention the word tambourine again, just assume that from now on, there's plenty of tambourine that I don't mention). "New Friend" has got the feel of those great Velvets love songs ("Pale Blue Eyes" leaps to mind). It's so close it could be a Cale/Reed cast off. I'm not complaining, far from it. "Diana Ross", Warm Night" and "Foreign Country" return the mood to "category: wistful melancholy". Don't assume that its downbeat, as there are some wonderful warm "life affirming" moments strewn around (especially the chorus of "Diana Ross", which is as classic a pop song as you'll listen to). The single "Seems Fine" makes the heart skip a few beats with an up tempo brass engine stomp around the local hop dance floor. This is a song for trailing silk scarves through the air, very "Nuts in May" in its, well, its poncey-ness really.

"Lovin Kind" and "Lovely as Can Be" are sentimental swoops, very James Kirk era Orange Juice with all the winsome guitar licks, heart-felt choruses and brass accompaniments that you'd expect.

The last track, "This One's for You" is just so melancholy; you might as well get the Methelated Spirits bottle down from the shed shelf, stick Baudelaire in your coat pocket and get sat down on the park bench. Needless to say it's a lovely pop song, the cascading harps bringing the image of falling autumn leaves to mind. Nice eh?

Apparently there are about 900 members of the Concretes (well I exaggerate a little). You can hear it in the open, expansive, almost carefree feel they bring to what can be a very structured, well worn genre. Despite virtually every track being a smoochy love song there is a lovely warm upbeat feel to this album. Me an' our lass just keep pressing the repeat button whilst looking gooey. Get it.

Richard Foster