The Notwist, 'The Devil, You + Me,' Domino, rating 3 (of 4)
If the current decade is remembered for indie rockers embracing electronics, there will be a few obvious touchstones: Radiohead’s epic “Kid A,” Daft Punk’s innovative “Discovery,” The Postal Service’s accessible “Give Up.” Future historians would be remiss, however, in forgetting the Notwist’s “Neon Golden.” By the album’s 2002 release, German brothers Micha and Markus Archer had abandoned punk for a humming, glitchy sound that tastefully melded guitar rock and keyboard pop. On “The Devil, You + Me,” The Notwist prove that six years, various side projects and a remix EP haven’t dulled its penchant for elegance and songcraft. The standout title track is structured like many rock songs — with an acoustic guitar at its core — but adds a spitting, synthetic hi-hat, warmed by music-box chimes and horns buried deep in the mix. But the most telling element of the song is a sound that could be either marimba or keyboard. Rather then emphasize their musical hybridization, The Notwist seem to almost ignore it, leaving electronics just another color in the rock palette. The band also writes excellent lyrics for non-native English speakers. “Good Lies” concerns itself either with positive untruths or with where good lies, and the group seems to delight in the ambiguity. “The boy was wrong in every class/Was always told that make-up would make things last,” Archer sings on “Boneless.” The Notwist make it clear that songwriting trumps the latest trend every time.
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