Concrete Evidence

It's a safe bet that Swedish sextet the Concretes are sick to death of being compared to fellow Swedes the Cardigans. After all, both bands mine the kind of fluff-pop that sets toes tapping, both are fronted by cute-sounding female vocalists and both hail from a land not traditionally thought of as a hotbed of musical innovation (unless you're a fan of death metal).

However, dig beyond Boyoubetterunow's impossibly cute opener, "Teen Love" (RealAudio excerpt), and it gradually becomes apparent that there are distinct differences within the Cardigans/Concretes nexus. In fact, with their penchant for resigned vocals, inventive instrumentation and head-scratching lyrics, the Concretes ultimately sound more like long-lost Australian greats the Triffids.

"Sunsets" sports a horror-movie organ (as do many of the songs here), mandolin and what sounds like a death rattle, while singer Victoria (no last names are given) sings, "Boy, you better run now" in a tone that's relaxed but ominous. The harmonica-inflected "Other Ones" starts off sounding like a space-rock soundtrack to "Hee Haw" before shifting into double time. The cute meter is pinned to the red for "Give a Little" (RealAudio excerpt), but things get creepy again on the brief but haunting "The Thief (Tjyven)" (RealAudio excerpt).

Boyoubetterunow is marked throughout by this cute-scary dynamic. One constant is the Concretes' amateurish but endearing songcraft and a willingness to experiment with instrumentation, often to great effect.