The Notwist – The Devil, You + Me

The Notwist
The Devil, You + Me

Let me start by justifying how the German electro-noise-pop trio The Notwist can have RIYLs of Radiohead, Bjork, Eels and Lali Puna. If you listen to The Devil, You + Me with a discerning ear and an open mind you will undoubtedly hear remnants of Radiohead’s electronic-tinged, post-rock angst. You will hear a fusion of strings and stuttering beats presented with an emotional depth similar in style to Bjork. And you will hear parallels to the disparate, poignant and gauzy rock of Eels coupled with the soothing, ambient electro-pop of Lali Puna.

The Notwist have a history of seamlessly combining acoustic pop with electronic rock as evidenced by their last album, 2002’s Neon Golden, a dynamic, sonorous and excellent alt-rock record. They also have a history of a more visceral and heavy electro-thrash sound. And they have established themselves as major players in the European electronic/alternative rock scene with their involvement in various bands/side projects including Lali Puna, Console, Ms. John Soda, 13 & God and the Tied and Tickled Trio. But they have always preferred form and substance over pop hooks and they favor exploring various rock genres, so it should surprise no one when these backgrounds are combined to form the alternative rock sound collages, with abstract electronic layers, heard on The Devil, You + Me. But while Neon Golden had these same elements wrapped up in accessible rock songs, it takes a while for the seductive pop to seep through the dense sonic layers on The Devil, You + Me.

The changes aren’t apparent until the second track though, as opener “Good Lies” sounds like a continuation from Neon Golden and is the perfect way to get re-acquainted with The Notwist’s fuzzy, electro-pop. The mood quickly changes with “Where In The World” and it’s dark, electronic atmospherics. From there the album seems to oscillate back and forth between the lighter, off-beat, Eels-like pop and the darker Radiohead-influenced, electronic-tinged, post-rock. Along the way, the tracks are enhanced with synth strings, mysterious and atmospheric electronic effects and elements of shoegaze that temper the fuzzy guitars perfectly. The acoustic guitar strums are not flashy but are artfully cool and polished to fit seamlessly within the context of the song, while whirling keyboard strains and droning sound effects undulate in the background.

Each track is unique, thanks in part to Markus Acher’s peculiar voice and The Notwist’s ability to seamlessly blend acoustic pop and electronic rock into a genre-bending, intriguing, and sometimes catchy, electro-fuzz pop, resulting in an uncommonly captivating album that gets better with each spin.

Recommended Tracks: “Good Lies”, “Where In This World” and “Sleep”