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The aptly named Concretes—a slab of Velvet Underground here, a chunk of Mazzy Star there—don’t exactly fit any of the musical molds cast by their countryfolk. Granted, there’s some similarity between this band, Sweden’s latest export, and the Cardigans—not the least of which is a sultry lead vocalist—but the latter had been to the moon and back by the time they released Gran Turismo, in 1998, a year before the Concretes got around to pressing their first 10-inch. Six years on, the comparison is no less facile and no more accurate: The Concretes’ self-titled debut long-player is pop, but not Nina Persson dance-pop. And not the pop of Sweden’s biggest bubble-gum factory, ABBA. And it’s not quite part of the Nordic blitz led by the Hives or the Sounds, either—which is to say the Concretes won’t be anybody’s cash cows. Sure, when the raw stuff of their influences comes out, it’s discernible: Lou Reed could collect royalties on the shamelessly “Femme Fatale”–cribbing “Chico,” and Victoria Bergstman’s breathy vocals and the woozy, druggy atmospherics and ever-present pedal steel of such songs as “New Friend” would have been right at home on So Tonight That I Might See. But the band avoids any one pocket for too long a stretch, and the result is a patchwork that handily includes the breezy, organ-inflected pop-rock of “You Can’t Hurry Love,” the near-martial staccato of “Diana Ross,” and the gondolierlike flourishes of “Warm Night.” (Really, you’d swear you were drifting along in a vaporetto.) But it’s the quasi-Motown of “Lonely as Can Be” that is undoubtedly the album’s strongest moment: The guitars swoop and twist while the chorus cruises on wheels of sax, trumpet, and organ. It’s easily the most digestible nugget you’ll get during The Concretes’ 40 minutes, and even though it’s the second-to-last song, it’s worth the wait. —Chris Hagan