As Clear as Glass
There’s some temptation to make this entire review just one giant, written out, slow clap. I won’t, but dammit, it sort of deserves it.
The Notwist isn’t exactly a household name, but this is far from their first rodeo. The band formed in 1989, and has made something of a career off of reinvention. They’ve gone from grungier carbon copies to indie rockers to electronica inventors. Recent albums have shown some unity between all those different backgrounds, but it’s with Close to the Glass that The Notwist really finds their formula.
The main thing you’ll notice about the album is how difficult it is to squash it into a given category. Curtain-jerker “Signals” begins like something lifted off of a Mario title-– at first. And then the vocals show up, whimsical and extremely pretty. There are abundant moments like this-– not identical, but similar-– where the band finds an odd balance between discordant and harmonious, dark and light, relaxed and menacing. That tension often bubbles up from the stark gap between The Notwist’s warm vocals, and some extremely creative, electronica-inspired instrumentals, and it lies at the very heart of what makes Close to the Glass so good.
Even then, there are some outliers. “Kong” is pure feel-good indie fuzz, and a total 180 from the spidery percussion and schizophrenic backing vocals of title track “Close to the Glass.” And what can we even say about “Lineri”? Why stick a 9-minute instrumental right at the end of the album? God knows, but it works.
You can take your pick of highlights, but “Run, Run, Run” is a good place to start. Spiraling vocals and a razor-sharp percussion slowly give way into a completely unexpected and completely danceable outro.
Close to the Glass is brilliant – you should listen to it.