Music

The Notwist: Superheroes, Ghostvillians & Stuff

All of Superheroes, Ghostvillians & Stuff” does not reach memorable heights, but it's not from a lack of trying.


The Notwist

Superheroes, Ghostvillains & Stuff

Label: Sub Pop
US Release Date: 2016-10-14
UK Release Date: 2016-10-14
Amazon
iTunes

The Notwist’s new live album, Superheroes, Ghostvillians & Stuff, begins triumphantly. “They Follow Me”, which is also the opening track to the Notwist’s most recent studio album, is improved upon, cleaned up. The studio track is gorgeous as it is, but after cutting some of the studio fat from the track, we get to hear it for what it truly is: a melancholy, heartbreaking ode to a lost love, heightened by the lead singer Markus Acher’s ever fragile and unaltered voice.

This is what a live album should do for the listener -- offer a fresh take on well-known material. Seeing a band live is one thing, but listening to a live album is wholly different. The listener needs a reason to stay, and the opening track is a perfect example of this. Unfortunately, all of Superheroes, Ghostvillians & Stuff does not reach these heights, but it’s not from a lack of trying.

The Notwist have been around for nearly 30 years. They are a shifty sort, often moving, always playing around with forms. In their early years, they played metal and grunge. They shifted to indie rock for a moment and then experimented with an electronics heavy form on their 1998 album Shrink. With 2002's Neon Golden they found the sweet spot between indie and electronics and this is where they have mostly planted themselves since. 2008’s The Devil, You + Me and 2014’s Close to the Glass are crops harvested from the garden that produced Neon Golden and that’s ok because it’s a great album. With the exception of one track, Superheroes, Ghostvillians & Stuff sticks with these successful years.

As a live act, the group leans heavily on the electronics, and it honestly gets in the way at times. As mentioned earlier, “They Follow Me” begins the album with stripped down beauty. The song is still loaded with electronic sounds, but the bells and whistles are taken out to expose the song beneath. Occasionally, the band repeats this, as they do with the staggering “Consequence”, but often they seem to make it a theme of their live document to play around with all the knobs on their toys.

For example, “This Room”, itself a standout from the standout album Neon Golden, is extended for an extra two minutes, and what is added is actually annoying. The last minute sounds a little like a symphony of glitchy children’s toys. This is fun of course, but not worth a re-listen. Furthermore, it’s what would probably be called a “had-to-be-there moment”, which for obvious reasons does not translate onto a live audio document. This happens throughout the album, especially within the latter third. “Pilot” veers so far from its original course in its 13-plus minutes that a co-worker walking by my office asked me if I was a fan of EDM.

Fortunately, the songs are solid enough to handle a little toying around. The Notwist are talented at writing the kind of songs that hit a melancholy and serious spot somewhere in your abdomen. A little playing around with the form misses the mark of course, but it’s not a deal-breaker. At the end of it all, the closing track, “Gone, Gone, Gone” says it all: “We'll never let you go this far alone.”

The fans are here to stay, so a little fun self-indulgence isn’t shaking off any of them. They are still cheering, and since it’s a live album, you can literally hear them.

6

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.