Album Review: The Notwist – Vertigo Days

I’ve been quiet on this thing lately, and reviewing The Notwist’s new record Vertigo Days was as close to a perfect step back into the game as I could have asked for. It’s the band’s first album in 6 busy years…and when they say busy they mean really busy- from scoring films to running a label to playing in numerous projects. Honestly, how do you produce such a high quality record in the middle of 1000+ side-endeavors? Seriously, let me in on the secret.

For Vertigo Days, core trio Markus and Micha Acher and Cico Beck opened up the possibilities. Reflecting on the idea behind the record, Markus had this to say: “we wanted to question the concept of a band by adding other voices and ideas, other languages, and also question or blur the idea of national identity.” Well, Markus, the questioning paid off.

Right off the bat, I have to say that the best moments on the record are when they collaborate with someone, and it is not because The Notwist are lacking something in themselves, evidence of their brilliance is in abundance throughout the entirety of Vertigo Days (listen to “Nights Too Dark” and “Into Love Stars” in particular), but because the collaborations open the band up in a way that shows the depth of their abilities. It could be that the sonic themes in these particular tracks are just my taste, but every one of them is a standout. “Ship”, the lead single off of this outing, is krauty and dynamic, with a Can-inspired groove. Featuring Saya of Japanese pop duo Tenniscoats, the vocals are eerie but not weird, if that makes sense. Another collaborative track, “Oh Sweet Fire”, offers the best bass-line of the entire album. Without question, the absolute best track is “Al Sur” featuring Juana Molina. It could just be because I love Juana Molina so damn much, but she and The Notwist were made for each other. You know when you are having such a good time on a trip that you don’t wanna take any photos, but you know you promised to document the trip? That’s what taking notes while listening to this song was like, so I don’t have much else to say.

The record as a whole shows expansion. There are instrumental moments of grounding, and you can feel their history as a band. There are moments that are driving and big, dynamic and interesting…scoring films will do that to your songwriting. Yet despite the openness and exploration, a singularity to the band can be found in the vocals; listening to the melodies on “Where You Find Me” felt like it did when I was a teenager. Don’t get me wrong, The Notwist can do it alone, but sometimes it pays to have a little help from your friends.

Do yourself a favor and listen to Vertigo Days, out January 29th on Morr Music

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