The Concretes were originally formed in Stockholm, Sweden, way back in 1995. They started out as just a trio – Victoria Bergsman (vocalist), Maria Ericsson (guitars), and Lisa Milberg (drums) – but within three more years, their ranks had blossomed to eight full-time members. They released a handful of EPs in their early years, and released a compilation that collected the first two of these for easier consumption, but their full-length debut didn’t come about until eight years into their existence on the scene.
“The Concretes”, however, wasn’t my introduction to this Swedish indie pop collective. I didn’t actually hear their music until they released their sophomore album, “In colour”, in North America in 2006 and by that time, Bergsman, the group’s principal lyricist, was already on her way out. I loved the album and for me, her frail and precious delivery and how it felt just this side out of step with the band’s technicolour sound, was what really sold me on the group. So I didn’t really pay that much attention when they resurfaced the following year with a new album with Milberg stepping out from behind the drum kit to take up the mic. I did, however, go back and pick up the debut and found much to love there as well.
The first single to be released off the debut record was “You can’t hurry love”, a two minute wonder that is definitely not a Supremes cover. Instead, it calls to mind the girl groups from the Phil Spector school: JAMC guitars, horns, handclaps, shuffling drums, and woo woo woo woo backing vocals. It’s a party turned up to eleven, a howling at the sun, a whole fireworks show set off at once, and a running of the bulls at rush hour. And at the head of it all, Bergsman is ‘racing’ to the finish line at her own pace.
Do you hear me say
Do you hear me say now
Well I didn’t mind
I didn’t mind
I didn’t mind
You can’t hurry love
You can’t hurry love”
Those are the words, repeated twice through, and the refrain comes again, just in case you didn’t get it the first time. Pop perfection.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2003 list, click here.