the notwist  the devil, you + me
  • THURSDAY, JUNE 19, 2008

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After a long hiatus, the follow up to Neon Golden (which dropped in 2002)has appeared. We're happy to report it's the same kind of electronica-pop which made the band infamous, while capturing a new kind of foreboding with it's on-the-edge constructions. Each track feels closer and closer to disaster, and that's part of the appeal of the record: the movement to darkness is beautiful and intricate. Almost like music to watch a natural disaster to... in slow motion. Something equally depressing and awe-inspiring. Marcus and Micha Acher dare the world to "bring in the trouble."

The Notwist, (made up of the two Achers, Andi Haberl, and the programmer Martin Gretschmann) hail from Germany, but their sound is only lightly dusted with the expected electronics. With so many indie pop acts moving off the stage and onto the dance floor, it's surprising to see a band with that exact path mapped out for them crank out a record that sounds more like Thom Yorke's solo work. "Gloomy Planets" is still the kind of layers the band usually works with, guitar, bells, horns, but "Alphabet" is a surprisingly dark track. Its full of random drum bursts and noises underneath a driving tick and bass line. "I won't sing your algebra/I won't sing anything..." A funny sentiment coming off a track that sounds closer to math rock than the shine-pop that put them on the map here in the states. And yet, there is something indefinably appealing about the whole thing, like being drawn to a solar eclipse.

"Boneless" strikes a more upbeat melancholy tone, which is a nice break from the relatively head-down mentality of the album. By the time we've reached the end, however, we've explored more minor modalities, crying strings and themes of assumed forgiveness and disappearance. Don't look for a pick-me up from Acher, even at the end, when he responds to "gone, gone, gone, gone, gone" The tone is in between, but the sentiment is clear; "we will never let you go..." but we're still pretty depressed about it.

Overall the album kind of sits in it's own reflection, occasionally getting angry, but mostly remaining sedate, on the edge of it's own breakdown, until it slowly floats away. There is no rousing climax, instead, its more like someone taking a deep breath. "I hear its colder where we live now/the same world but better somewhere else... gravity will get me." That's definitely the overall feeling of the record... its the same world, but its cold and it's heavy. Gretschmann could overwhelm us with beats and blips, but instead the record sticks to its songwriting, and the only thing left overwhelmed is our hearts. - joe puglisi

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