Concretes The Concretes

Concretes The Concretes
Sweden is a country that doesn’t see much daylight for a good portion of the year. In such depressing conditions, you’d expect the place to be a Prozac nation, but they really know how to produce some great pop music. The Concretes are certainly no exception and arguably the best modern day candidates for the role of pop ambassadors. Over the span of nine years, this eight-piece mini-orchestra (organs, strings, horns, harps) has perfected a fragile and sparkling pop sound that resembles a Mad Hatter’s tea party with the Velvet Underground, Phil Spector and Mazzy Star. Their debut album (originally released early last year in Sweden) is a seamless collection of wistful, dreamy ballads and Motown-shaped toe-tappers. The slow burning "Say Something New” is a melodic update of "Venus In Furs,” minus the sinister vibe, that sets up "You Can’t Hurry Love,” (not a Supremes cover) a giddy saccharine head rush. The steady swap between beautifully languid floaters ("Warm Night,” "New Friend”) and bubblier, upbeat numbers ("Seems Fine,” "Diana Ross”) is consistent but not formulaic, making for a healthy balance throughout the album’s entirety. Like their sizeable peers — the Hidden Cameras and the Polyphonic Spree — the Concretes have created their own little quirky world where the harmonies dazzle and the sweetness never ends.

There are quite a few references to Diana Ross on the record. Major influence or are you just big fans? Organist Per Nystrom: I think it’s more that we’re fans and more of a coincidence because I wouldn’t say we want to sound like the Supremes. We all love the Supremes and the Motown sound, we all listen to them a lot, but I wouldn’t say she is a big influence.

All eight of you contribute to the songwriting. Is it a difficult process? It is, absolutely. We just recorded an EP of two songs recently and we didn’t think we would have it finished because it was really stressful, but it’s a good thing to be pressed for time because then we all sit down and concentrate and everybody has to be creative. It takes a lot of time getting everybody together in general, for meetings and deciding who will do the next album cover art. There are always decisions to make and sometimes the process can be very slow with that many people. (EMI)