Review: The Notwist – The Devil, You + Me

It’s been six years since The Notwist’s ‘Neon Golden’; a record which signalled a new wave of groups who embraced both folk and electronica music. What made this German act so remarkable though was that they were plying their trade with a grunge and hardcore punk sound in the late 1980’s. The long gap could have resulted in another change of direction but really it’s more of a detour with The Notwist maintaining the folktronica blueprint with an expanded sound.

‘Where In This World’ embodies the new ambition of The Notwist. Subtle strings, glitchy electronica and Markus Acher’s furtive vocals create a tune which is both unsettlingly beautiful and original. At other times, The Notwist seem to be seeking inspiration from their fellow countrymen. ‘On Planet Off’ sounds like a successful collaboration with Tarwater and although ‘Alphabeat’ may employ the klick-klack rhythms used by Kraftwerk, it’s balanced with a healthy amount of industrial noise. Amongst all this creativity lays the plaintive title track; a relatively straightforward ballad but one which shows the band still in touch with human feelings.

On the flipside, the more downbeat second half of the record is a little pedestrian compared to the bright, imaginative first half; a few too many tracks too understated for their own good. A shame because, for a while, The Notwist prove they’re still the masters of emotionally-bruised electronica.

Web Sites:
The Notwist Official Site
The Devil, You + Me Album Site
The Notwist Myspace

Further Listening:
Lali Puna, Styrofoam, Weevil

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