August 10, 2005

The Concretes "Layyourbattleaxedown"

In a way, The Concretes are The Cardigans' little sister: they're just as pretty, charming and sweet like their big sister, but they're just not quite in the same league; they're just as talented, but big sister is always going to dominate. Of course, considering they've never really had the chance to shine, we haven't really seen The Concretes' full potential. Though last year's self-titled debut introduced this Swedish band to a larger audience, it was not their first record; the band formed in 1995, sporadically releasing EPs and singles. Their first album, released in 2000, was nothing more than a collection of previously-released material.

Layourbattleaxedown serves as a compendium to Boy You Better Run Now, compiling many--but not all--of The Concretes' singles and EPs released since 2000, including 2001's Nationalgeographic, 2002's single Forces and last year's Warm Night EP. As these types of releases go, it's an interesting snapshot of a young band's growth. Earlier songs like "Forces" and "Under your Leaves" find the band staying close to its indiepop roots; their style has not quite matured, but it's obvious to see that their growth would result in good things. By the time of Warm Night--a wonderfully strong follow-up to their self-titled debut--it was clear that they had already started to mature beyond what they'd just released a few months prior. Their songs, especially "Lady December" and "Seems Fine Shuffle," find the band creating more complex music, with more intricate accompaniment and sophisticated arrangements.

Though they might not be the most prolific of bands, The Concretes' material is always lovely and enjoyable, and for those who are looking for something to accompany their lovely debut, Layourbattleaxedown is a nice companion piece.

--Joseph Kyle

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