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on 25 May 2008
I had assumed Neon Golden was the last we would hear from The Notwist, but six years later here unannounced comes The Devil, You and Me. A nice surprise, and it's even more of a surprise that they have matched or even surpassed Neon Golden.

The Notwist create multi-layered, dense music, an intricate ensemble of beats, samples and live instruments. Their blend of acoustic and electronic sounds is remarkable, with glitches, beeps and stutters working alongside cello, piano and guitar without ever jarring. The Notwist are also big believers in melody and write proper songs, transcending the electronica tag often attached to them.

As for the set here, 'Good lies' is a strong opener, and 'Where in this world' is a nice contrast to follow, with pulsing bass and buzzing strings. The most immediate track is perhaps 'Boneless', which may have just become my favourite song of the year so far. The song builds from a simple guitar and shaker intro, adding pipes, harpsichord and finally a full string section. I have no idea what Markus Acher is singing about, but it's beautiful.
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on 27 May 2008
If `Neon Golden` was The Notwist in a state of evolution, leaving their hardcore punk roots behind in favour of post-rock flavoured indie-pop and electronica, `You, The Devil + Me` is the sound of a band who have found their, er, sound. `You, The Devil + Me` may lack Neon Golden's shock factor at least for those who have followed The Notwist's 20 year, albeit hardly prolific, recording life. It may also lack an anthem on the scale of that album's `Pilot', but `You, The Devil + Me` is a real grower, a layered and atmospheric slow-burner. Markus Archer's German-accented English is very much the signature of the band's sound, by no means a disadvantage but a singularity that makes them unmistakably The Notwist.

Post-rock is very much the principal theme, the electronics more decorative than propulsive, adding a layer of lushness to the autumnal, sometimes bleak mood. Indeed certain tracks ('On Planet Off') bear resemblance to the pastoral melancholy of Hood, while a little levity is afforded by the Postal Service-esque electro-acoutic balladry of `Gloomy Planets' and the title track. Elsewhere ('Good Lies') lyrical and melodic refrains build over swelling New Order guitars, or on the most overtly electronic tracks ('Where in the World') abrasive textures mingle with baroque yet pro-tooled orchestration.

Like Portishead's `Third` and Bon Iver's `For Emma, Forever Ago` - two other wintery records with UK springtime release dates - the arrival of `You, The Devil + Me` feels somewhat late (or early, depending on how you look at things), its world-weary ambience very much anachronistic. While this bleakness is impounded somewhat by the cover artwork, this is a not difficult record, there is nothing as funereal and oblique as their Anticon collaboration `13 + God`. The Notwist have a canny knack for melody, and despite the apparent expansiveness of mood, the album clocks in at under 45 minutes - ideal for a generation of music listeners who, like me, liked an album to fit one side of a C90. Despite the raves from a committed fan-base, The Notwist may not be the most immediate band, but repeated listens really reward.
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on 4 June 2008
The Notwist's last album, Neon Golden, was an album disillusioned with relationships, crafted mainly for long lonely nights (see song titles like "One Step Inside Doesn't Mean You Understand"). It was only on tracks like "One With The Freaks" and "Consequence", that the band opened their arms, revealing their fondness for simple, tender and touching rumination pieces. The Devil, You + Me, on the other hand, revels in that sound, from the moment "Good Lies" bursts out the door with pensively driving waves of sound that paint a picture of the band crouched over their instruments, pouring all their memories of loved ones, instinctual intimacy and traces of emotion into each heavenly movement.

But for all it's romantic gestures and love-centric gestures, The Devil, You + Me is still best personified by it's album cover: A lone man standing at the edge of a forest, ankle deep in a body of water teeming with birds and wildlife. The narrator of Neon Golden has made it out of the dank labyrinth of tracks like "Trashing Days" and "Neon Golden", only to emerge in an endless sea. Beauty thrives much more in this place, but there's no escaping the fact that he's still a long ways from home. It's that tension between inescapable sadness and beauty that may make The Devil, You + Me every bit as good as it's predecessor, despite it's lack of focus.

By lack of focus, I'm referring to way in which the sequencing of the album let's down it's powerful individual moments, of which there are many, might I add. Besides the aforementioned opening track, "Gloomy Planets" comes to mind; a wistful acoustic track, eventually fueled by Theremin harmonies and a gradually unfolding bridge that uses unidentifiable electronics and noise to gently propel it forward. The title track uses similar techniques and sounds, but does so even more delicately, swaying and slinking at a slower tempo. "Handson Us" and "On Planet Off" move through darker textures like clockwork, making up for the similar early album attempts (and failures) of "Where In This World" and "Alphabet".

There's such a consistently high quality and quantity of individual moments, but unlike Neon Golden, which had a track order that lent each track a distinct identity and immediacy, even countless repeat listens will render The Devil, You + Me as not much more than a collection of tracks. This is because the band seems to put so much into each one of these tracks, filling them to the top with hooks, life-affirming spirituality and dense textures, that they seem to lose regard for cohesion, preferring to just milk each individual moment for all it's worth. It's one of those rare albums that is actually so good, it's hard to tell at first. But Neon Golden needed time and so will this one. Just think of it as The Notwist's Aladdin Sane to their Ziggy Stardust, and this treasure trove of perfect electronic pop songs will reveal itself soon enough. (Aron Fischer)

For fans of: The Postal Service, Bjork, Dntel
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on 4 June 2008
The Notwist's last album, Neon Golden, was an album disillusioned with relationships, crafted mainly for long lonely nights (see song titles like "One Step Inside Doesn't Mean You Understand"). It was only on tracks like "One With The Freaks" and "Consequence", that the band opened their arms, revealing their fondness for simple, tender and touching rumination pieces. The Devil, You + Me, on the other hand, revels in that sound, from the moment "Good Lies" bursts out the door with pensively driving waves of sound that paint a picture of the band crouched over their instruments, pouring all their memories of loved ones, instinctual intimacy and traces of emotion into each heavenly movement.

But for all it's romantic gestures and love-centric gestures, The Devil, You + Me is still best personified by it's album cover: A lone man standing at the edge of a forest, ankle deep in a body of water teeming with birds and wildlife. The narrator of Neon Golden has made it out of the dank labyrinth of tracks like "Trashing Days" and "Neon Golden", only to emerge in an endless sea. Beauty thrives much more in this place, but there's no escaping the fact that he's still a long ways from home. It's that tension between inescapable sadness and beauty that may make The Devil, You + Me every bit as good as it's predecessor, despite it's lack of focus.

By lack of focus, I'm referring to way in which the sequencing of the album let's down it's powerful individual moments, of which there are many, might I add. Besides the aforementioned opening track, "Gloomy Planets" comes to mind; a wistful acoustic track, eventually fueled by Theremin harmonies and a gradually unfolding bridge that uses unidentifiable electronics and noise to gently propel it forward. The title track uses similar techniques and sounds, but does so even more delicately, swaying and slinking at a slower tempo. "Handson Us" and "On Planet Off" move through darker textures like clockwork, making up for the similar early album attempts (and failures) of "Where In This World" and "Alphabet".

There's such a consistently high quality and quantity of individual moments, but unlike Neon Golden, which had a track order that lent each track a distinct identity and immediacy, even countless repeat listens will render The Devil, You + Me as not much more than a collection of tracks. This is because the band seems to put so much into each one of these tracks, filling them to the top with hooks, life-affirming spirituality and dense textures, that they seem to lose regard for cohesion, preferring to just milk each individual moment for all it's worth. It's one of those rare albums that is actually so good, it's hard to tell at first. But Neon Golden needed time and so will this one. Just think of it as The Notwist's Aladdin Sane to their Ziggy Stardust, and this treasure trove of perfect electronic pop songs will reveal itself soon enough. (Aron Fischer)

For fans of: The Postal Service, Bjork, Dntel
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on 27 May 2008
If `Neon Golden` was The Notwist in a state of evolution, leaving their hardcore punk roots behind in favour of post-rock flavoured indie-pop and electronica, `You, The Devil + Me` is the sound of a band who have found their, er, sound. `You, The Devil + Me` may lack Neon Golden's shock factor at least for those who have followed The Notwist's 20 year, albeit hardly prolific, recording life. It may also lack an anthem on the scale of that album's `Pilot', but `You, The Devil + Me` is a real grower, a layered and atmospheric slow-burner. Markus Archer's German-accented English is very much the signature of the band's sound, by no means a disadvantage but a singularity that makes them unmistakably The Notwist.

Post-rock is very much the principal theme, the electronics more decorative than propulsive, adding a layer of lushness to the autumnal, sometimes bleak mood. Indeed certain tracks ('On Planet Off') bear resemblance to the pastoral melancholy of Hood, while a little levity is afforded by the Postal Service-esque electro-acoutic balladry of `Gloomy Planets' and the title track. Elsewhere ('Good Lies') lyrical and melodic refrains build over swelling New Order guitars, or on the most overtly electronic tracks ('Where in the World') abrasive textures mingle with baroque yet pro-tooled orchestration.

Like Portishead's `Third` and Bon Iver's `For Emma, Forever Ago` - two other wintery records with UK springtime release dates - the arrival of `You, The Devil + Me` feels somewhat late (or early, depending on how you look at things), its world-weary ambience very much anachronistic. While this bleakness is impounded somewhat by the cover artwork, this is a not difficult record, there is nothing as funereal and oblique as their Anticon collaboration `13 + God`. The Notwist have a canny knack for melody, and despite the apparent expansiveness of mood, the album clocks in at under 45 minutes - ideal for a generation of music listeners who, like me, liked an album to fit one side of a C90. Despite the raves from a committed fan-base, The Notwist may not be the most immediate band, but repeated listens really reward.
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VINE VOICEon 27 March 2009
This is a terrific, much over-looked album, probably my favourite of 2008 (which I thought was a pretty poor year, all told).

Pushing The Notwist further from their punky roots after Shrink's electric-jazz-cum-postrock and Neon Golden's full-on electro-indiepop fusion, The Devil, You & Me still has some sweetly meandering pop melodies, but lacks the overt hooks of Pilot or One With The Freaks that garnered their last album such attention and acclaim in 2001.

Instead, things are toned down with astute sensitivity, a series of minor key tunes lacking in ego but soaked in delicate, sensual atmospherics and textures, both electronic and acoustic, as The Notwist call on orchestral assistance for some tracks, and melancholy motorik beats for others. The moment halfway through Where In This World when the song suddenly collapses in on itself sublimely almost recalls the plaintive moments of Talk Talk's latter day albums, while the tumbling percussion and whirring motherboards of Alphabet threaten to explode into something expansive, caustic, or anthemic, but never actually quite do.

This avoidance of grand gestures and obvious pop gratifications seems obtuse at first, but reveals itself over multiple exposures to be a quality that rewards in time; this is a record to wallow in, to grow familiar with, to inhabit, rather than to play loud and exult in. It's delicate and easily missed, but oh so very good.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 3 June 2008
Yes, just, but it's not as immediate as Neon Golden, with often melodic, hushed vocals backed by electronic squonks and squeaks which for me suggest a work not quite finished. My immediate comparison was with early Wire which is no bad thing. In common with a lot of bands of this stature I can't hear anything on here that will attract new fans but if you liked Neon Golden you will like this.
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on 28 April 2009
Yes, this is brilliant. It's sufficiently different from Neon Golden so as not to bear too close a comparison. It's a real grower. Many of the tracks seem to start out a little weak, but build to something wonderful which you just don't want to end (but they do). I need a few more listens but so far the stand-out tracks are Good Lies, Gloomy Planets, On Planet Off, Boneless and Hands on Us.
My only gripe - and hence why not the full 5 stars the music deserves - is that this CD comes with a little label on the front proclaiming it to be 'Limited Deluxe Edition' including 'Where in this World' video... only there is no video included. Not anywhere. Now then, you can watch the video on the Notwist website so it's not the end of the world but it's just a little disappointing that it's not on the disk as promised.
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on 21 October 2008
Few moments will resonate in my ears as when I discovered The Notwist a few years ago. I was able to feast on "Neon Golden" and "Shrink" like a ravenous vagrant at a royal feast. I've spent countless hours bobbing back and forth in appreciation to both those albums. Sadly, I've not yet be able to say the same for their latest venture.

Certainly, the sound of The (New) Notwist is there in all it's glory. It's just that it seems... well, droney and dare I say it, boring. Where "Neon Golden" was a fresh, "The Devil You and Me" just groans along. Gone are the hooks that get you singing along in your car hours after the CD has stopped spinning in your stereo.

This is still The Notwist... just without the twist.
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on 23 May 2008
As in these songs, we do not need many words to give a statement. While it's not fair to compare this with Neon Golden, it is beyond the slightest doubt a worthy, brilliant, equal follow-up! To me, Neon Golden will always represent Perfection in marrying guitar and electric - inspired, timeless, brilliant. The Devil, You + Me is just as rich, poignant. Almost staggering in its achievement, to be honest. I would even say, the trio's artistic power has become even more refined, versatile and uncompromising over these last 6 years. If I miss anything, it is an ending that is as powerful and heart-wrenching as the last two songs on Neon Golden. An album worth the long-long wait...
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