The Notwist – Close To The Glass

cttgRating: ★★★☆☆

This German band has been around making records for a long time. When I open a review with something about a bands’ extensive career I usually mean somewhere along the lines of a decade or so, but The Notwist handily defeat this notion through their 20+ year career effort that is still tacking on more releases. 2008’s The Devil, You + Me reminded us all that this band still had it in them, and Close To The Glass looks to repeat that phenomenon.

On the aforementioned record we heard the subtle indie rock of this group somehow manage to feel subtler in its simmering singles like “Good Lies,” but Close to the Glass has something else in store: electronic. From the very first track this is impossible to miss: consisting of pure electronic elements to begin, The Notwist certainly don’t skirt around this change. “Signals,” carries on this way, incorporating what resembles some dub sounds, breaking it down to a groovier and choppier mix than we’ve heard from the group. Of course Markus Acher’s hollow vocals still compliment this beat with ease and delicacy, balancing out the violence of the electronic sounds with his calming voice. The title track follows in the same pursuit, though this time the electro-beats, aided by hand claps feel tribal, which makes for an odd sound whose enticing nature cannot be challenged, but perhaps worries me a little for the sake of longevity.

Third track, “Kong,” takes a complete departure from everything you’ve thus encountered on Close To The Glass, and pushes you back to their classic sound. The mild vocals are abundant and focal, the driving synth base hovers in the background, while a faded drumbeat drives the song all in a hyper-collected fashion. Songs like these are simply what this band do best—you’ll hear a lo-fi fuzzed out version of this archetypal song, albeit a bit slowed down, on “Seven Hour Drive.”  Its got the build up to the outburst of sound and tempo of a chorus that will have you rocking along with them.

The drawback on Close To The Glass, is that it is easy to fall in and out of attention with the tracks. If you’re not careful, you will find yourself finished with the record without a strong recollection of some of the songs Acher’s voice is soothing and easy, glazing over the sometimes ambient—sometimes all out alt-rock—backing instrumentation. So listen carefully for your favorites to add to your catalog.

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