For most of the first half of this past decade, Sweden was arguably the undisputed champion of new music exporting. Yes, the very nation that gave us meatballs, Niklas Hjalmarsson and the musical likes of ABBA, Roxette, Ace Of Base eventually gifted the rest of the world with The Hives, The Cardigans, The Knife, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Robyn and many more over the past 10+ years.
I was quite excited last night when I opened up yesterday’s mail to find a 3-song sampler for the upcoming new album from Swedish pop group The Concretes. It was in 2003 that The Concretes made their mark with a self-titled debut record (it finally got a U.S. release on Astralwerks in the summer of ’04) that stood apart with its lush orchestration and instrumentation (lots of strings/horns) over sugar-coated pop hooks and Motown-esque production stylings and melodies. It was all anchored with the swoon-inducing vocals of Victoria Bergsman, who has since departed the group after the release of their 2nd record ‘In Colour’ in 2006.
The group soldiered on without her, with drummer Lisa Milberg stepping from behind the drum kit to assume vocal duties. This lineup furnished The Concretes’ third and equally-impressive-as-their-prior-material-with-Victoria album, ‘Hey Trouble’ in 2007.
But that’s when things went quiet.
I had thought that the band was all but history, as they didn’t record one new song together for three years. But that changed last Christmas Day when the members (all eight of them..who were all in their hometown of Stockholm for the holiday) got together for a nightcap. They had spent the time away involved with such things as children/families, travel, life itself, and side projects. But it was on this day that they asked themselves the question of, “do we have more in us?”..and with a new fresh approach, the unanimous decision was “Yes!” (though the jury is still out as to whether that decision was made after a few more cocktails!).
The Concretes – My Ways
The Concretes – All Day
But they felt that with this new return, the music should have a new approach, as well. They describe it as a disco sound, but hold on a second…they *don’t* mean in an Olivia Newton-John sort of way. They mean it in the modern sense–the same wistful and dreamy vocals as before, but now laying on top of a pulsing electro base.
And although Milberg is picking up the slack nicely, I will still always miss Victoria Bergsman in this band. Things are still going just fine for her, though. Her solo project is called Taken By Trees and she’s already cranked out two albums under that moniker. She also collaborates with other musicians and groups, and you have heard her voice dozens of times as the guest female vocalist in the 2007 international smash hit “Young Folks” (yes, the one with the whistling) from Peter Bjorn and John.
I’ve included two of the new tracks (“My Ways” and “All Day”) off of The Concretes’ new record entitled ‘WYWH’, plus videos for some of their past materials to catch you up in case you’re new to them. One is “Can’t Hurry Love”, the focus track off of that 2003 debut, plus “On The Radio” from 2006’s ‘In Colour’ and one from the post-Victoria era, “Kids” off of ‘Hey Trouble’ from 2007.
‘WYWH’ officially comes out on the 9th on Friendly Fire Recordings, but it’s already available on iTunes.