The Concretes – In Colour

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

Oh, the Concretes, you beautiful idiots. You went and changed your sound and fucked it all up. Well, not ALL, but whereas The Concretes was perfect, this is decidedly not. I can’t tell if I would have to be in a much worse or much better mood to get rid of this. If I was in a worse mood, that would mean I had (somehow) sunk even lower, to the degree that I lacked the will to cling to even the small pleasures of In Colour anymore. But if I was in a better mood, then the meager offerings of the band’s sophomore studio album would be easy to cast aside.

What I Think of This Album

In Colour is a massive step backwards from the studio debut. The band worked with a new producer (Mike Mogis) and went for a cleaner, more open sound, and basically everything and everyone is the worse for it. Much of this basically sounds like third-rate Camera Obscura. It is entirely pleasant and inoffensive, and fine as background music. It’s not something you would dislike. But there is little here that commands attention.

With close listen, you can hear Victoria Bergsman leaving the band – she gives up lead vocal duties more than once, and the songwriting credits have now expanded to allow drummer (and eventual lead singer post-Bergsman) Lisa Milberg a significant role. “Chosen One” has a nice distorted guitar line and a peppy rhythm (handclaps!) allows Bergsman’s voice to come alive, and the harmony vocals from Milberg are a nice touch. Milberg takes lead on “Your Call,” sharing the duties with guest Romeo Stodart (the Magic Numbers); some might find the repetitiveness of the chorus tiresome, but I think it works really well, dispiritingly communicating incompatibility and lack of communication much like “Hello Goodbye.”

This inviting island of quality in the middle of the album includes “Fiction,” which is surprisingly psychedelic while also, somehow, hewing to a country-ish clip-clop rhythm. Also worth a spin is “Grey Days,” a nicely constructed, string-swept downer, with lead vocals from guitarist Maria Eriksson. Finally, “Song for the Songs” closes the album on a bright, joyous, almost beatific high.

The Best Thing About This Album

“Chosen One” most closely approximates the sound of The Concretes, and “Song for the Songs” is probably the best of the new batch, but I appreciate the curveball of “Fiction.”

Release Date

March, 2006 (U.K.); April, 2006 (U.S.)

The Cover Art

Various band members were involved in this album art, and I am into it. I like the colo[u]rs and the miniature set design (closeups of some of the dioramas are included in the booklet), as well as the way the curtains barely obscure part of the band name.

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