And drive fast to this she may possibly do as well, though there isn't a lot in common with Depeche Mode. Punchy and fuzzed out, the first half of Das Bierbeben's third album is a little storm of electro guitar pop made for burning rubber—even if the second half does cool off into more innocently styled electro pop better suited for Sunday morning.
The accessibility of the album should be no surprise. After all, Das Bierbeben have a strong pedigree, drawing together the most defining moments of modern German music from Krautrock, Neue Deutsche Welle (New German Wave), protest music and acid techno. Perhaps an unwieldy mix in lesser hands, but with members of Germany's underrated (at least outside of Germany) Tocotronic, the Poptarts, Dirty Dishes and more onboard, not to mention the helpful studio hands of label boss Marco "T. Raumschmiere" Haas, you have a capable crew who can manage just about anything.
A notable omission is Jessica Drosten, who no longer partners so teasingly with Jan Müller up-front, as she once did on past hits like "Alles Fällt." Vocal duties are now in Müller's hands and he's a dominating presence throughout. Cast somewhere between Stereolab and shoegazers Lush, Müller's voice anchors the album, not changing significantly between tracks or threatening emotional boundaries, but holding the line compellingly. All vocals are proudly in German, except for the fabulously catchy "Behind the Green Door," which may cryptically allude to the long literary and musical history of the ambiguous "green door," or just be about the porn movie of the same name.
But buried amongst all the fun, there is plenty of serious business as well. "Hochzeit" is a cover of folk singer and left wing artist Franz-Josef Degenhardt's song of the same name and delivered like Kraftwerk coming down in a kindergarten. The brilliant opener "Dunkle Tage" launches the album with a barrage of meaty six string chords and a rollicking bassline that would sound nostalgic if it weren't for the superb electric edge to the mix. "Wie ein Vogel" takes it a step further, intertwining subtly plucked guitar notes with taut keyboard patterns until it thrusts a big electro bottom end underneath it all for good measure. But still, it's hard to eclipse "Delirium" which seems to encompass the essence of the album into its laidback acid techno drawl and its fecund psychedelic spirals.
Being largely guitar driven, Das Bierbeben may not be an album for hardcore technophiles, but for the curious, the relaxed, the weird and everyone else—including my boss—there's a mêlée of pop gems and simple lullabies for driving fast, for slowing down or even Sunday brunch lost somewhere within.