A Lot to Unpack
…However, the investment into Sentimentale Jugend will pay back many times over.
It’s been over seven years since Klimt 1918 released their last studio album Just In Case We Never Meet Again. In their latest effort, Sentimentale Jugend, Klimt 1918 continue to inch away from their metal roots towards a sound that combines gothic rock with echoing shoegaze. The final result is a sprawling, multilayered album into which any fan can happily get lost.
Sentimentale Jugend is a large undertaking. Clocking in at almost 2 hours, the album is delivered in two parts. The first, titled “Sentimentale,” brings about Klimt’s introspective side. While more straightforward, “Sentimentale” produces evocative and melancholic portraits that will tingle the spine. It contains the two singles and a cover of the Berlin hit “Take My Breath Away.” The Top Gun-related cover is not the only track that summons the ’80s: “Montecristo” will bring you back the emotional conclusion of the brat pack film of your choosing. Early Interpol is channeled throughout this part of the album; we hear it “Comandante,” reminiscent of “Untitled”‘s moody echoing guitars and bleak, ponderous lyrics.
“Jugend,” on the other hand, is a bit more unrestrained: the songs are longer, darker, and more mercurial. While the two halves of the album have their minor differences, they are very similar and work as one cohesive record. The album artwork captures “Sentimentale” and “Jugend”‘s mood perfectly: foggy, mysterious, and cryptic.
The album certainly marks a continued evolution in sound. No longer are we listening to the metal group that sung about the Snow of ’85 or Undressed Momentos; the chugging electric guitars have been traded into for shoegaze petals and cultural references both high and lowbrow. Today’s Klimt 1918 struggle to recognize its original self.
Who are their contemporaries these days? To an extent, Sentimentale Jugend is reminiscent of Explosions in the Sky circa The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place years—the foggy aura, epic ambitions, and penchants for building crescendos that explode into triumphant climaxes make this comparison an obvious one to draw. On a deeper level, Klimt’s effect on our emotions renders their resemblance to Explosions a bit uncanny. Like The Earth, Sentimentale has the capacity to soundtrack both uplifting triumphs and crushing defeats. The music can make you feel optimistic, heartbroken, or even both, depending on the circumstance. This shared attribute that many would find paradoxical is seen throughout Sentimentale Jugend. “It Was To Be” follows this Explosions formula to a T. Adding layers throughout its 7+ minutes that build up to an exultant, dramatic conclusion, the song is undoubtedly intended to move senses.
Unlike Explosions in the Sky, lyrics play a significant role for Klimt in Sentimentale Jugend. The group draws references from history (“The Hunger Strike”), literature (“The Sound & The Fury”), and current events (“Gaza Youth”) using both English and Italian lyrics. Soellner’s warm vocals add depth of the instrumentals of each track. At times his voice blends in with the other elements of the album as if it were simply another layer to the group’s already dense music. This is not to imply his lyrics to be pedestrian, as many serve as a driving force behind the songs.
The album is not only the band’s most ambitious. But more importantly, it serves as a reminder that the limits in music are boundless and that there are many creative places that remain unexplored. While Sentimentale Jugend‘s length and density can seem formidable upfront, this lyrical, otherworldly album offers much in return for those willing to invest their time.