Release Date: Jun 17, 2008
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Rock, Pop, Alternative
It’s remarkable to think (for us Americans, anyway) that the German post-punk/metal-cum-electronica/indie-rock hybrid known as the Notwist has been around for nearly twenty years. But this incredulity may simply be because we stateside folk didn’t really catch wind of the Bavarian band until roughly thirteen years into its illustrious career. The first four albums -- 1991’s The Notwist, 1992’s Nook, 1995’s 12, and 1998’s Shrink -- made waves in Europe, it wasn’t until 2002’s critically lauded Neon Golden that the Notwist reached a larger North American audience.
After all that time spent developing, or (to be more kind) bouncing from place to place, beginning with scraggly post-hardcore (The Notwist, Nook) and then moving to relatively streamlined and occasionally melodic post-hardcore (12) and then abstract electronics (Shrink), the Notwist delivered a smart and song-oriented synthesis of the organic and synthetic on Neon Golden. And then, for six years, nothing, unless a remix EP and a soundtrack contribution count. The length between Neon Golden and its follow-up was twice the length of time between any two other Notwist albums, a gap that can be partially attributed to the members' several outside projects.
"Lets just imitate the real until we find a better one". Whilst an admirable sentiment on opening song Good Lies, it feels a little close to home on the latest offering from Munich's Notwist, still trying to hit the heights of their last full length album Neon Golden. Since then their career has been mostly in EPs and remixes and it still feels very bitty, like The Devil, You + Me imitates perhaps a collection of Neon Golden b-sides and the Notwist haven't quite found a new real.After a good handful of listens nothing hugely sticks and it isn't quite clear what they're aiming for.
The Devil, You + Me, the Notwist’s follow-up to 2002’s Neon Golden, has been a long time coming. In the interim the group’s members have been busy with side projects including Lali Puna, Console, Ms. John Soda, 13 + God, and the Tied + Tickled Trio (clearly these fellows have a thing for plus signs), but its hard not to suspect that the delay has also had something to do with anxiety about following up an album as well-received as their last.
The Notwist’s last album, 2003’s Neon Golden, was irresistibly catchy and irretrievably downbeat. Both of those qualities are muted on The Devil, You + Me, the German combo’s long-in-the-making follow-up. Brothers Markus (guitar, voice) and Micha (bass) Acher, electronics wrangler Martin Grestchmann and new drummer Andreas Haberl have woven a 20-piece orchestra into an already rich sonic field in which electronic beats and dubby effects co-exist with crisp guitar pop.