The Concretes

WYWH

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    5
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Three years have passed since the last Concretes album, and indeed, this isn't the same band that once soundtracked Target commercials with its ebullient indie pop. Amidst time off wherein the Swedish octet's members dabbled in other interests -- side projects, raising children, and, in at least one instance, joining the circus -- things have changed. Instead of purveying the band's usual ain't-broke-so-don't-fix-it twee, WYWH is being pushed as a quote-unquote “disco” album. Although most of that is publicity hype, it's not entirely disingenuous; what makes the band's fourth record stand out from its predecessors is a nuanced tone and some subtly dancefloor-ready basslines throughout. While this isn't necessarily a bad idea on paper, the Concretes unfortunately forgo much of what made them an enjoyable listen in the process. Songs like leadoff track “Good Evening,” for example, show initial promise (pulsating bass, ominous guitar squall), then meander off into parts unknown for more than six minutes. Others, like “Crack in the Paint,” fail to get off the ground entirely, serving as pleasant and unobtrusive background music (think Yo La Tengo's least exciting material), but not much else. WYWH's middle portion truly pops thanks to excellent arrangements and melodies, notably fulfilling the disco promise and stepping up the pace. (“What We've Become,” incidentally, is the song to own here.) Had the band chosen to release those four songs on their own, it would've been a strong EP. Instead, they're sandwiched amidst dull recordings that should have been left on the studio floor, and the listener is left with an ultimately lackluster experience.

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