The Notwist
Vertigo Days


4.0
excellent

Review

by callum theatre CONTRIBUTOR (19 Reviews)
March 7th, 2021 | 87 replies


Release Date: 01/29/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Notwist plot twist

It’s fair to say that The Notwist have had a hard time of it since 2002’s Neon Golden, which saw the German trio heralded as potential future kings of experimental electronic indie (or if you will, the next Radiohead). Unfortunately for artist and fans alike, three albums and eighteen years separate this release from that one, and the consensus is that the band have since failed to lay thick any prints comparable to that golden cult classic’s deep influence. This isn’t necessarily as doom and gloom as you might expect, and their projects haven’t necessarily been bad. It’s more-so that the fresh creativity and charisma once in abundance from their time atop the indietronica canon has gradually swapped instead for an ever more comfortable mould of half-baked experimentation. It’s a story oft-told in the realm of past-“future”-indie darlings, particularly those utilising the kind of electronic bleeps’n’bloops The Notwist once mastered with a fresh air. So, what, if any, is the solution? Well, it appears a six-year wait and a shit ton of features. That’s all, problem solved.

Okay, I concede. It’s not quite as simple as that. In fact, maybe the most notable improvement seen on Vertigo Days is just how darn-tooting fresh the genre canvas developed is. The trio’s previous adventures into a more ambient, electronica or neo-psychedelic landscape felt less-than inspired. However, here the luscious, looming glow of such a landscape takes on a gloriously complete form akin to the album’s artwork. It’s a unique and fleshed out combination of influences and genres. At the core is this psychedelic shine yet a slight move of the eye’s gaze pulls into focus outside glimpses of dark and light hues, green leaves and yellow glow. All of these focal points and connoted emotions weave together to form a piece of art much more the sum of its parts than brief glimpses into something special. It’s this certain and fully developed rich range of atmosphere that their previous outings lacked.

This luscious bright hue at the centre takes on different forms throughout the near 50-minute runtime. One such form is a loose haunting post-punk backbone, primarily seen in Exit Strategy To Myself where the drums’ repetitive pounding is effectively hidden in the haze, letting minds wander briefly into darker territory but holding close the album’s essential glow. Almost oxymoronic from this, could-be club bound electronic tracks appear in brief portions throughout the album, born for a good-natured boogie. This style is at its most bouncy in Al-Sur towards the end of the album, in which the verse-chorus structure is a 0-100 masterclass of indietronica at its most fun, drum machine and posi-vibes essential. In truth, this song struggles to fit within the album’s comfortable snug, but it remains a damn good time. These two songs act as a spectrum between which the album’s sound balances. Fear not though, superfans, for this is certainly still the band many fell in love with back in the day. Looming in the foreground of all these exhilarating new forms are the trustworthy electronic and krautrock influences essential to the group’s identity, now accompanied by this neo-psych haze and benefitting buckets from it. Further, and perhaps most importantly, Markus Archer’s near twee vocals are as beautiful as ever, still as gentle as to tease unfurling at the tiniest pull. All this together blueprints a band successfully infusing old templates with fresh ideas.

Thus, for the first time since 2003, The Notwist have crafted an album which just feels certain. Even slight missteps feel beneficial, and even teeny moments feel massive. I mean, just listen to the voice-break vocal inflection sung in each chorus of Sans Solei, oh boy melt me. For further evidence of this certainty, simply glance at the feature list. Five out of eleven non-interlude instrumental tracks feature artists from over the globe. This could have easily been to pique interest but instead each stands as calculated additions weaving within the album’s seamless ebb and flow. On Ship, a song which fits within the prior mentioned club-bound spectrum of the album, magnificent bass funk is ridden vocally by Japanese dream-pop singer Saka, with Archer only providing a blink-and-you-might-miss-it harmonization - a momentary dreamy departure within the psychedelic shine. Half-way through Oh Sweet Fire, American jazz artist Ben LaMar Gay disrupts Archer’s gentle croon with a contrasting husk baritone, a drop-note gut punch improving an already mighty track. The album ends with a confident curtain call as the final track reprises the second, circling back what will certainly be one of the most complete album experiences of the year.

Vertigo Days is a long-awaited return to form for a band many had begun to write off. Instead of trying to force lightning into the bottle, The Notwist waited patient for storm clouds to form. Sure, it’s not Neon Golden, but it comes inch close. In 2021, this is more than enough. And if that isn’t enough proof, even the name is inspired. Vertigo Days, like god damn, doesn’t that just sound good?

The next Radiohead, perhaps.



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user ratings (36)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Pheromone
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2021


13600 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks for adding your review. you can see it here



other summary ideas include vertigo haze

Digging: Julia Kwamya - Feel Good About Feeling Bad

anatelier
March 7th 2021


4062 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

a wonderful read - they should make you contrib

i will be revisiting this in due course as i guess i must have stepped in wanting neon golden nostalgia

Digging: Feu! Chatterton - Palais d'Argile

Mort.
March 7th 2021


16189 Comments


'It’s fair to say that The Notwist have had a hard time of it since 2002’s Neon Golden. The response to which saw the German trio heralded as potential future kings of experimental electronic indie (or if you will, the next Radiohead). '

i would consider making this one long sentence or changing the second. its just 'since 2002's Neon Golden. The response to which saw' works better without that full stop imo.

'However, here the luscious, looming glow of such landscape takes on a gloriously complete form akin to the album’s artwork.' - should be 'of such a landscape'.


'Almost oxymoronic from this, could-be club bound electronic tracks appear in brief portions throughout the album, born for a good-natured boogie. '

'Almost oxymoronic from this' is worded badly and it took me a couple of rereads of this sentence to get what u meant. id consider restructuring this sentence.


'still so gentle like they could unfurl at the tiniest pull, whilst pulling tall the hairs of your skin'

i very much like the imagery but again think its put slightly awkardly.



overall though smashing and i love you and remind you to call me babycakes from now on. 10/10, would lend a bens to a fren





Digging: Ghost Spirit - Hourglass

Pheromone
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2021


13600 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fuck u babycakes



will edit now hehe thank u

Mort.
March 7th 2021


16189 Comments


no worries man, its a great review overall and im v glad you are contrib

long live the nerd

Pheromone
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2021


13600 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

like a secret only you know, eh



love u mort

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 7th 2021


37113 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love the artwork

Will check

Digging: Manchester Orchestra - The Million Masks Of God

Pheromone
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2021


13600 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ay hope you enjoy



bit surprised by how little hype this received / is receiving. poor notwists

Divaman
March 8th 2021


9529 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice. Glad you reviewed this.

Digging: Grouplove - This Is This

Mort.
March 8th 2021


16189 Comments


I mean it looks like the interest in this band has slowly been decreasing over the years so not too surprised this hasnt got much attention. Theres a pretty substantial drop just between their 2014 and 2015 albums

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2021


2192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review! I'll check this out

Gyromania
March 8th 2021


32259 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

lol that summary.



good writeup, i'm gonna check this out. i haven't been super crazy about their old stuff, but who knows. you mentioned this has fresh ideas so i'll keep an open mind

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 8th 2021


37113 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This was quite good. I really dug the balance between experimental/cold and emotional/warm. Something about it didn't quite grip me enough to go higher than a 4, but it also seems like the kind of album that will get better with time. This was my first Notwist and it definitely won't be my last.

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2021


13964 Comments


That summary is gold.

porcupinetheater
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2021


7546 Comments


Fuck yes, lots of little great twists in the writing. This one fucking got me there - "Instead of trying to force lightning into the bottle, The Notwist waited patient for storm clouds to form."

Delicious.

Sounds like you did a fucking beautifully thorough job of capturing the sound of the record as well, without getting tedious about it. Have to jam the record to proper see first though cause WHO FUCKIN' KNOWS, REALLY?

Ghost ne-
Fuck, wait a second

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2021


34829 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

yes yes this review lives! nice !



jammed Neon Golden for homework last night, and it ticked most of the boxes of things i like about indietronica from that period. looking forward to this

Digging: Xiu Xiu - OH NO

Veldin
March 8th 2021


4338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I only know of their work from 13 and God, which was The Notwist and Themselves (Dose One and Jel of Anticon). I'll give this a listen to see what they're up to these days. Excellent review, mate!

Pheromone
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2021


13600 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you all !



I was gonna push a 4.5 onto this to maybe hyperbole it a bit more but it really is superb and with time i can see it being in rotation more than neon golden, good year for music so far.

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2021


2812 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

hell yeah great review! will give this a shot

Digging: Lunation Fall - Near

someone
March 8th 2021


2761 Comments


Bump on this baby



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