The Notwist - Close To The Glass 2LP
Includes mp3 download of album.
Sub Pop Records
The Notwist have been around for long enough and have such a solid discography that it's easy to take them for granted. It's almost as if their consistency works against them getting the credit due for helping to create the electronics-meets-indie rock template followed by so many later bands. However, that shouldn't be a problem with Close to the Glass; the band's first album since 2008's The Devil, You + Me is some of their most accessible and attention-getting music yet. The Notwist blend the experimental side of their music and their undeniable pop skills into songs that are equally dynamic and haunting: songs such as "Signals" are abrasive and hooky at the same time, marrying noisy percussion with a poignant melody and strings. The band's maturity shows in how easy they make this seem, and aside from the nine-minute instrumental workout "Lineri," their experimental expertise is in service of some of their strongest songs. Chief among them is the warmhearted and winsome "Kong," which sounds like a Teutonic version of I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One-era Yo La Tengo. Inspired by a story from Markus Acher's childhood when he wished for superheroes to rescue his family from their flooding house, it's a glimmer of youthful faith on an album otherwise full of adult fears and doubts. With their fragility, tension, and running theme of separation, these songs are indeed close to the glass, but the Notwist bring an exquisite clarity to this uncertainty. "Casino" uses gambling as an extended metaphor for a troubled relationship yet never feels contrived; "Run Run Run" fills the space between Acher and his beloved with spooky electronics and surprisingly muscular percussion and brass; and "7-Hour-Drive" sets the sweet frustration of a long-distance relationship to alternately raging and swooning shoegaze. Throughout the album, the Notwist search for connection, something they've excelled at since the days of "Pick Up the Phone." However, the way they join the organic and the electronic, the cerebral and the emotional on Close to the Glass makes it the most thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable album of the Notwist's career to date.