Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Notwist - The Devil, You And Me (2008)

3.5 ★/7.0 - 7.9

The Notwist's last album, Neon Golden, was an album disillusioned with relationships, crafted mainly for long lonely nights (see song titles like "One Step Inside Doesn't Mean You Understand"). It was only on tracks like "One With The Freaks" and "Consequence", that the band opened their arms, revealing their fondness for simple, tender and touching rumination pieces. The Devil, You + Me, on the other hand, revels in that sound, from the moment "Good Lies" bursts out the door with pensively driving waves of sound that paint a picture of the band crouched over their instruments, pouring all their memories of loved ones, instinctual intimacy and traces of emotion into each heavenly movement. But for all it's romantic gestures and love-centric gestures, The Devil, You + Me is still best personified by it's album cover: A lone man standing at the edge of a forest, ankle deep in a body of water teeming with birds and wildlife. The narrator of Neon Golden has made it out of the dank labyrinth of tracks like "Trashing Days" and "Neon Golden", only to emerge in an endless sea. Beauty thrives much more in this place, but there's no escaping the fact that he's still a long ways from home. It's that tension between inescapable sadness and beauty that may make The Devil, You + Me worth checking out, despite it's lack of focus. By lack of focus, I'm referring to way in which the sequencing of the album let's down it's powerful individual moments. Unlike Neon Golden, which had a track order that lent each track a distinct identity and immediacy, even countless repeat listens will render The Devil, You + Me as not much more than a collection of tracks. But with delicate and transcendent songs like "Gloomy Planets" and the title track, one gets the sense that The Notwist puts so much into each one of these individual tracks, filling them to the top with hooks, life-affirming spirituality and dense textures, that their disregard for cohesion is a forgivable mistake.

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