album reviews

The Concretes
In Colour
Astralwerks (2006)

Sweden's the Concretes seem to have all the makings of a powerhouse girl group: breezy pop hooks, adept female musicians and several singers capable of lead vocals or harmonies. Since their formation as an all-female trio in 1995, they've added a few boys to the mix (the group now numbers eight), but the Concretes still sound like a girl-empowered pop group.

The additional members allow the group to incorporate a multitude of instruments on their second full-length album, "In Colour." "Change in the Weather" features a mesh of organ, flute and mandolin, while "Ooh La La" kicks off with a sassy trumpet line. Founding Concrete Victoria Bergsman performs most of the lead vocals; her voice captures a carefree breeziness on the loving "On the Radio" that is amplified by a delicate glockenspiel.

That laid-back attitude often works to their detriment, as the Concretes never quite sound committed to the emotions in their songs. The opening of "Chosen One" seems dejected on paper ("I don't know about falling in love/'cause it comes to an end I've been told") but is so casually recited that it might as well be patty-cakes. On the tedious "Your Call," Lisa Milberg's bright, choir-girl vocals stretch phrases almost interminably as she coos, "I call, you hang up" in duet with Magic Numbers' Romeo Stodart.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 5 May 2006, Page WE06
.: In Colour on