Review Summary: The Concretes are dead, long live The Concretes!
It feels both apocalyptic and a little bit condescending to refer to the current situation in The Concretes’ career as post-Bergsman. In literal terms, the label is absolutely accurate and it is hard to dispute that their former leading vocalist was very much the soul of the band’s first four releases – particularly the excellent self-titled album – but lest we forget, The Concretes are an eight-person band. Hey Trouble
, their first record following Bergsman’s departure to pursue her solo project Taken By Trees, was very hit-or-miss, executed exactly the way you would expect a band still picking up the pieces to react. Former drummer Lisa Milberg was bumped up to leading vocal duties and the real problem that the record encountered was that it emphasized more than anything that she was not her predecessor. WYWH
marks a distinct change of direction: rather than attempt to stuff Milberg into the Bergsman-sized hole left in their sound, they’ve taken the bold step of ditching that set up altogether. The Concretes are practicing reinvention.
Purely in those terms, WYWH
performs admirably. They sound fresher and more relevant than they have done in years, even eclipsing the latter records of Bergsman's time with the band. The best part, though, is that by itself (and if anything, it’s likely they want the fresh start) WYWH
is still surprisingly great. The understated disco (for the comedown) throwback of songs like “”I Wish We’d Never Met” absolutely oozes with cool and the sparser moments like “Sing for Me” play to Milberg’s husky-voiced strengths in a way Hey Trouble
completely failed to do. Their perpetual melancholy has found a new home in these lush, electronic soundscapes and it’s the type of self-assured sound that makes you kind of wish Hey Trouble
didn’t exist: how tremendous of an out-of-the-ashes story would this have been? But then again, you can’t really blame them for struggling for footing - they did lose their figurehead member. Title track and closer “WYWH” sends them off confidently - cascading synths, a thumping beat, live-and-let-go lyrics – and this may as well be a completely different band from the one that released the self-titled in 2003: Bergsman, post-Bergsman, who cares? The Concretes are moving on.