I am a long song skeptic; I don’t think there is often a very good reason for a pop song to be much longer than four minutes, in fact. Usually things are just repeating themselves at that point, or stretching on without apparent purpose. And yet I’ll admit I’m also a fan of music that might be considered atmospheric, and now that I think about it, atmospheric music almost by definition requires a certain amount of time and space to develop. Do I contradict myself? (My iTunes library is large, it contains multitudes.)
“Good Evening” is six and a half minutes. It takes its time. There is a groove involved. There are interesting sounds (try 0:34 on for size, or 1:22, or those background springy percussion noises at 1:28). A sense of tension is established—a combination of the beat, the restrained instrumentation, and a determination to stay focused on two chords—and extends well past the two-minute mark. This is not something that you can do in a three-minute song. Another thing you can’t do in a three-minute song is take a one-minute recess during which the rhythm and beat stop, most of the instruments leave, and the percussion reduces to something that sounds like swinging, amplified footsteps. Check that out starting at 4:00. Now, admittedly, longer songs are common when there’s a dance beat involved—the club ambiance requiring a totally different musical animal than, say, a radio, or even an iPod. That “Good Evening” manages to bridge that gap, bringing a bit of club-floor panache to something that works as an actual song, is a good part of its well-built allure.
An eight-piece band from Stockholm, the Concretes have been around in one incarnation or another since 1995, although didn’t start recording albums until 2003. “Good Evening” has been making the online rounds for a few months, but is actually from the brand new album WYWH, which was released just this week on Friendly Fire Recordings. It is the band’s fourth full-length. MP3 via Friendly Fire.