Concretes


(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

The Concretes (Licking Fingers, 2003) , 6.5/10
In Colour (2006), 5/10
Hey Trouble (2007), 5/10
Taken By Trees: Open Field (2007), 7/10
Taken By Trees: East Of Eden (2009), 6/10
WYWH (2010), 4/10
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The Concretes were the heirs of the Cardigans in the realm of the atmospheric Nordic pop ballads, transposing them to the fragile and ebullient sound of the 1960s, and wrapping them in lush orchestrations that, in scope, went beyond chamber pop and towards a "maximalist" form of pop music. The many early singles were collected on the anthology Boy You Better Run Now (Up, 2000).
Tracks: A1 Teen Love A2 Sunsets A3 Be Mine A4 Other Ones A5 Vacation B1 Recover B2 Give A Little B3 The Jeremiad B4 Cabaret B5 Tjyven (The Thief) B6 Contamination

They matured on The Concretes (Licking Fingers, 2003), when they had become an eight-piece ensemble.
Tracks: Say Something New 3:44 X You Can't Hurry Love 1:58 X Chico 5:04 X New Friend 4:07 X Diana Ross 3:40 X Warm Night 3:34 X Foreign Country 1:41 X Seems Fine 2:09 X Lovin Kind 5:32 X Lonely As Can Be 3:27 X This One's For You 4:33

In Colour (2006) and Hey Trouble (2007) were vastly inferior.

The Concretes' vocalist Victoria Bergsman debuted solo under the moniker Taken By Trees with Open Field (2007), a set of lushly arranged melancholy ballads. The orchestral sound was made quirky by the juxtaposition of so many instrumental timbres (cello, vibraphone, marimba, euphonium, flute, synthesizer, guitar, mandolin, harmonium, piano, viola, violin, bass and drums), with many instruments played by producer Bjorn Yttling. The combination of voice and sparse instrumentation works magic on her simple melodies. The languid and dreamy Tell Me employs just a guitar and a drum. Only Yesterday rolls over a tinkling marimba while the guitar intones a counterpoint reminiscent of Leonard Cohen. Childish singalongs pop up throughout the album, and they don't need much more than one instrument. Hence The Legend (just percussion) and Hours Pass Like Centuries (just piano). Ditto for a folkish number like Sunshine Lady (only mandolin), which is emblematic of her naked atmospheres.
She rarely goes for lush melodrama. Lost And Found is the notable exception, a rousing lament with strings and piano. Even better is the subtler way in which electronic effects and psychedelic cymbal crashes intrude in the solemn Julia, that is otherwise a trotting country elegy. The most "orchestrated" piece is the bucolic instrumental Open Field, with a plaintive melody reminiscent of ancient Chinese folk music. The propensity for Asian melodies is also evident in the closer, Cedar Trees.
She departs from the warm and unsophisticated mode only for the agonized chant and surreal arrangement of Too Young, that gently mutates into a funereal chamber sonata.
The tone of her voice and the melodies she spins evoke the girl-groups of the 1960s, but instead the exuberant sound of that era is replaced by the existential spleen of the 2000s.

Taken By Trees' second album East Of Eden (Rough Trade, 2009) was recorded with Pakistani musicians playing a plethora of local instruments. She de facto converted to world-music in the elaborate To Lose Someone and Day By Day, and sophisticated arrangements turn Anna into the kind of cocktail-lounge shuffle that usually comes from pop-soul chanteuses. And exotic pop-soul is precisely the synthesis achieved by the elegant orchestration of Watch The Waves. There are a few distractions along the way that contribute to a less spontaneous and sincere feeling: Wapas Karma is a traditional performed by ordinary people; My Boys is a cover of the Animal Collective's My Girls. The closer, Bekannelse, is the most vibrant piece. Here world-music is finally internalized and becomes pure emotional state.

WYWH (2010) was old-fashioned disco-music for the Facebook generation.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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