Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs at Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, California
It's rare when two such different versions of the same song are done by the same band. In this case, The Concretes took a song from their last record, "WYWH," and transformed it from a pulsing and mostly upbeat club banger into a song that feels like a slit wrist waiting to happen. When lead singer Lisa Milberg and her Swedish bandmates recorded "My Ways" for their record, the tone was something closer to a sad but prevailing take on getting left behind in a break-up. It was something more like how Tegan & Sara like to deal with people deciding that they can do better and not needing to put up with anything less than something more idealistic. It feels like the "victim" is already on the rebound. There are some quickly healing open wounds and everyone's going to be just fine.
When we get to the version of "My Ways" that the group performs here on this session, we're immediately struck by the thought that this is red alarm serious. Milberg, or this character, has gone through the nastiest of ordeals and there's nothing that's going to fix anything, short of a miraculous change of heart - something that's being pitifully begged for. The person who was left in this version of the song is NOTHING like the same person who was dumped in the original version of this song. They couldn't be more different.
One is about to go on with her life and the other is sticking around near the door, staking out a lookout post right there where the handle can turn and the one who left will walk right back into her life, giving all of this one more chance - even if it didn't deserve one, even if it was meant to die and grow cold. When the woman in the second version admits to getting "lost every now and then," this seems to me as if she's telling us that she goes outside to sit at her patio table, no matter what the temperature is, and just stare off out into the scraggily bushes and the alleyway where there's nothing to fucking look at. She'll just be staring like that for hours and then she'll drag herself back into the house, not like there's anything in there that's going to make anything better. Then, she sings into her pillow, presumably following some violent sobs, "I can promise more than that/I will try/Honey, if you take me back, I will change/I can promise more than that/I will try and change." It's hard not to want the first version of the breakup aftermath, if you got to choose one. The Concretes make it very clear though that there is no choosing, most of the time, and we could easily turn into a lonely, staring shell of a formerly living creature.