Review Summary: Till cranks up the dial to wacky.
For all intents and purposes Till couldn’t have picked a better way of going about his solo project with co writer, friend and multi-instrumental whizz Peter Taegtgren. While Rammstein lays dormant Richard has been off writing more material for Emigrate, a side project of his that lands in the cookie-cutter spectrum of originality; not to take anything away from Richard’s solid second job, but it hardly stands out from the crowd. Till however manages to bring several important factors to Skills In Pills
that makes Lindemann more than just your average celebrity solo project: firstly, he brings all the right ingredients to the project, where any fan of his previous works can feel at home; it’s as controversially striking as any Rammstein album -- and just as sonically pleasing -- which is quite rare when you think of other artists doing solo projects, and move their sound as far away from the sonic venture that made them successful; finally, while this album is as subtle as a blow torch to the face when it comes to controversy, it also takes itself as light-hearted and unserious in equal measure. This is probably the most important factor, as the comedic aspect brings a refreshing vibrancy to a sound you’re well accustomed to.
Getting the most obvious thing out of the way: Till has decided to sing in English, as opposed to his native German tongue. This is where the album will undoubtedly split opinion. I found his English to come very naturally and it fit the sound perfectly, unlike Richard’s English for Emigrate which took awhile to adjust to. The risks Till made by singing in English pays off though, and it just seemed to magnify the goofy, comical aspects of the band, making songs like "LadyBoy" that much more fun. It’s also this approach that lets songs like "Praise Abort" avoid angry protestors reaching for the pitchforks. And this is where the genius of Lindemann lies: all the tracks topics are as obvious as a fart in a spacesuit, pointed at all manners of perversions, drugs and desires some depraved individuals wouldn’t care to admit. These subjects would normally cause a storm (had they taken the serious route) but the decision to use English vocals and ludicrous lyrics, Lindemann somehow manages to debunk any potential controversy - if people look and see it for what it really is.
The need to laugh at the songs on this LP is insurmountable, and is further exaggerated by the music that supports tracks like "Fat" and "Golden Shower". The albums sound ranges from various eras in the Rammstein discography, with "Children of the Sun" and "Skills and Pills" sounding like something you’d have heard from the Reise Reise
era; while "Ladyboy" and "Golden Shower" mix sounds from the Sehnsucht
eras, with large slabs of symphonic undertones. But to say these songs don’t stand strong on their own merit would be a disservice. Sure, there isn’t a great deal of depth to the songs themes, and you won’t be sitting there trying to decipher what he’s singing about, but the purpose of this album is to have a bloody good time. Even the musical style should go against them on paper; suspicions of them being lazy by centring their core style around the industrial metal signature of Rammstein is understandable. But Lindemann somehow manage to take it all and make it their own; creating a refreshing experience that will grab both old fans and new.
One of the strongest qualities on the album, something that Till and Peter have done extremely well, and probably better than even Rammstein could do, is the compositional shift from verse to chorus. The powerful production enhances the synths and guitars, melded with Till’s bellowing vocals, creating an epic feeling that can sometimes give goose bumps. Listening to the power driving verses move into a colossal sounding chorus is such a satisfying feeling. The albums single "Praise Abort" brings all the right elements and emotions: from its hilarious lyrical content, infectious choruses and surprise shift to an industrial metal chugging breakdown; it all brings reason to assure you Till and Peter are out to prove something.
All-in-all, there’s little to fault from Lindemann. Big props to Till for taking the light-hearted route and making one of the most entertaining records of the year. It all basically falls under the marmite slogan “love it or hate it”. If you can’t wrap your head around the ridiculously over-the-top lyrical topics, or get used to Till singing in English, the chances are you’ll hate this. But if this clicks with you, you’re in for one hell of a fun ride.