In Colour

Studio Album by released in 2006

In Colour review

In Colour is the follow up to The Concretes’ critically acclaimed debut album

The Stockholm-based pop collective the Concretes were formed in 1995 by vocalist Victoria Bergsman, guitarist Maria Eriksson, and drummer Lisa Milberg; over the course of three years, they added guitarist Markus, bassist Martin Hansson, organist Per Nystrom, trumpeter Ulrik Karlsson, and vocalist/harmonica player Malte. In Colour is the follow up to the Concretes’ critically acclaimed debut album. Still an eight-piece group, they have spent the last year progressing their original Motown/Wall Of Sound produced Swedish pop to a more folky outlay with the help of Bright Eyes affiliate Mike Moggis. The result is a lush symphonic album of pop gems and lovely folk laments. With the Cardigans being a little unreliable, it is nice to know that another alternative Swedish band, fronted by a great female singer, is capable of filling a whole album with one great song after another. The band is gloriously rich in melody and vocal interest, like Lush tuned through ABBA and maybe the Magic Numbers. This follow-up is highly recommended to anyone who likes their music tuneful and with several layers of edge and interest.

Pop without the cliches; songs that catch you off-guard

Recorded in their native Sweden and mixed in the US, the album starts with the piano progressive first track of On the Radio, which wouldn't sound out of place on a Carpenters Greatest Hits album. When the melodies lace themselves around the jangly guitars and intermittent flute it almost transposes the listener into a quiet walk in the pine needle riddled forests of Sweden. The gentle summer breeze is steady throughout their 12 track daydream: sixties nods and an endearing sense of tradition are created with the plinky glockenspiel and nonchalant brass and bell flourishes. The languid beauty of singer Victoria Bergsman’s voice is the main vocal presence on the album but to spice it up the Concretes nominated Lisa to sing a lovely duet Your Call with Romeo Stodart from the Magic Numbers and also guitarist Maria Eriksson’s plaintive honey tones are registered on the folk based Grey Days. The wistful soundscape of Tomorrow gives way to the percussive narrative ramble of As Four. But these both pale alongside the joyful closing track Song For The Songs. It combines spurts of strings, a dash of trumpet and even a little flourish on the castanets. It's bright and catchy, with an element of something almost child-like about it, a gleeful exuberance, and encapsulates what the Concretes are best at – pop without the cliches; songs that catch you off-guard.

Just in time to become your favorite spring/summer album

There are obvious parallels on this album with Fleetwood Mac and Bright Eyes, but the Concretes interject their own sound with the reliance on traditional instruments. Moggis manages to inject careful hints of pure Omahan twang – the homey pedal steel on Song For The Songs counterbalances the twee string section nicely – and filters the band's penchant for sunny melodies into more of a clean Cali-pop aesthetic. There may not be much exceptional about the album, other than the fact that it's exceptionally pleasant. But that's a feat in and of itself. The Concretes make intelligent, evocative pop music. These songs are instantly familiar and you're never looking for the skip button. A band that goes from sounding like the Velvet Underground to a '60s West Coast pop band is probably going to lose some indie rock cred in the process, but as a record, this stands up to anything they've done before. This is pop music without pretense. And it's just in time to become your favorite spring/summer album. Listen to it on a sunny weekend morning with the windows open. In Colour is ultimately more pastel than primary but it draws from a very broad palette.