It's the drum sound that gives away this album. Something about it gives the impression of simplicity yet the sound of the 4/4 beat is of someone still unused to the instrument. That's not, of course, to say that anything's wrong with Lisa Milberg's playing, rather that, like Bobby Gillespie's drumming in the early days of The Jesus And Mary Chain, the innocence of it infects the rest of the sound with sweet pop, much like the thump of Hal Blaine's drumming with The Wrecking Crew turned Be My Baby into one of the great pop singles.
Similarly, Moe Tucker was chosen to drum for The Velvet Underground after the exit of Angus Maclise, according to Lou Reed, because of her ability to tap out a rhythm on the phone book and with Reed, Cale and Morrison making simple music sound complex with guitars, bass and viola, the band needed the innocence of Tucker's drumming to avoid disappearing into an art-rock ghetto.
It's unlikely that The Concretes would ever be at risk of turning art rock, meaning that Lisa Milberg's job is to simply hold the band's sound together, so often does it sound at risk of falling apart. But the occasional moment of chaos is as nothing when compared to the sound of the whole and The Concretes, having already released the superb You Can't Hurry Love as a single, have recorded a great pop album, so long as your take on pop is like theirs, in which Psycho Candy, Loveless, Emmerdale and Back To Mono are pop classics from the sweet female vocals of one to the swirling guitars of another.
If anything, You Can't Hurry Love is better here than it was on its own, sounding fantastic as it charges out from the gentle pop of Say Something New into Victoria Bergsman chorus of, "I didn't mind...'cos you, you can't hurry love" and the guitars and keyboards sparkle like it was Phil Spector behind the mixing desk. Similarly, Diana Ross is a lovely tribute to the singer having forgotten all about everything she's done since leaving Motown.
Both of these songs, however, are apart from the feeling of melancholy that drifts through the album. Opening track Say Something New hints at a relationship gone sour whilst Chico and New Friend suggest that Victoria Bersman needs a break from her current circle of friends. Similarly, Lovin Kind plays on the notion of Bergsman giving her partner 'love in kind' in the hope of having that love returned one day whilst Lonely As Can Be lives up to the sadness suggested by that title. Finally, This One's For You is a wonderful lament in which Bergsman's so sad vocal drifts through a sympathetic backing.
Hearing The Concretes has the same appeal as the first hearing of The Jesus And Mary Chain's Upside Down - something that you know to be sugar sweet inside but is coated in the simple noise of guitar, bass and drums. As Upside Down is accompanied by the squall of feedback, The Concretes is the sound of lonely pop made light but what the two of them share is an innocence that sounds out of sorts now but which would have been welcomed had it been issued on Philles Records during the sixties.