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Mon February 17, 2014
First Listen: The Notwist, 'Close To The Glass'
Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 2:17 pm
On paper, the German electro-pop band The Notwist sounds less accessible than it is: Since getting together 25 years ago, its members have delved into everything from hardcore to underground hip-hop to proggy jazz, with many varyingly arty detours in between. But the latter half of its history, particularly once you hit the sublime early-'00s breakthrough Neon Golden, is wonderfully warm and approachable. Bathed in charming, clattering, crackling electronics, Markus Acher's softly accented vocals land like late-night affirmations from a trusted friend.
The Notwist's members dabble extensively in remixes and side projects — and have been known to scrap recordings midway through — so the band tends to take its time between albums. Nearly six years have breezed by since the release of The Devil, You + Me. But, if the new Close to the Glass is any indication, The Notwist sounds fully refreshed: From its corker of a single ("Kong") on, the album showcases a light touch in a frequently collage-based sound that brims over with buzzing, springy, playful urgency.
Throughout Close to the Glass, The Notwist lets many sides of its sound peek out, as straightforward pop-rock melts together with the pulse of Krautrock until they become indistinguishable. But, like its most recent predecessors, the album never feels chilly, even when the band wanders through a nine-minute instrumental ("Lineri") late in the proceedings. Even then, no matter how many machines manipulate The Notwist's sound, they never drown out the human heartbeats at its center.