on 6 February 2012
This song is a corker. The band come in like a tornado, wreak havoc and stop just as suddenly (business as usual for the R+ camp, then). Tuneful guitars, catchy keyboards and drumming to die for (Schneider seems to get better with every release!). This is a harsh song, so the tight drumming complements the singing perfectly (there even is a little voice-drum "duet" at 3:00-3:17mins. into the song). And then, of course, there are the singer's powerful and poignant lyrics, dealing with a very contemporary issue. They bear a message for tolerance, relevant and very timely in these days of social, political and economic uncertainty that we are living in, in the Western world (but also in the middle east, and further afar too), when even in the easy-going and relaxed UK we are currently seeing a tendency towards the return to a more "controlled" immigration, where we'll only want the "richest and brightest" foreign people to settle here and where we are currently seeing a wish for the introduction of an Australian-style "points' system immigration".
Lindemann, as ever, is a master of writing about the human condition (albeit he usually tends to deal with its extremes). That penchant of R+ for the extreme has often caused them to be maligned, misunderstood and vilified- and occasionally taken to court- due to the general public's apparent inability to discern between a poet/author only writing about a certain situation and a person actually living that situation, or commending it to others. Lindemann's lyrics are rarely trivial or mundane and, when not dealing with the extreme, they seem to me to have an eerie Brechtian echo (he has obviously been influenced by Brecht and must be familiar with Brecht's comments on "Poetry and Context" as expressed in August 1940). In any other era he'd be more of a poet than a lyricist.
In the case of Mein Land, the lyrics deal with the issue of displaced people, the destitute and desperate of this world, who, banished from their own homes, are looking for a place to settle and for a safer future- but are accepted nowhere. Those people's plight is heartwrenchingly expressed in the singer's "vertrieben, vertreiben, vergessen" alliteration (="sold/marketed, banished, forgotten, nowhere can I stay") at the song's end. How the message of this song (whether you agree with R+ or not) could ever be misunderstood (as I saw it has been, in one of this CD's other reviews on Amazon's American website), is incomprehensible.
Apparently, though, R+ themselves must have believed the lyrics might be misunderstood, and this time they took their measures in advance: Mein Land is paired on this CD release with brilliant cover "My Country" by crazy Berliners Boss Hoss (and what a delight that song is for us Anglophones!). Not forgetting the excellent unreleased track "Vergiss Uns nicht", which alone makes this CD worth buying, Boss Hoss's cover makes this CD single a complete work of art on its own right - and a must have for all English-speaking fans. Being an ardent collector, I try to get all the products that are released by the bands I love, because the physical aspect beats the electronic one for me every time (especially with books, but with CDs too). However, this is one of the very few times that I've actually felt I have received full value for my money from a CD-single product.
"My country" is an (almost) word for word translation of the original German song and a transliteration of the metal original into a different musical idiom (country). It is extremely successful. It is there to entertain and also ensure that non-German speakers will easily and readily grasp the song's meaning (and it's a handy, instant translation of the original to have, so we won't have to burden our German friends with that task, or to resort to the web's lyrics translation sites, where many "translators" appear not to know what a participle is). The cover song's American setting is more familiar to Anglophones than the Teutonic setting of the original, which we expected to terrify us anyway (due to history). In the Boss Hoss cover, the song gets transported to a more relaxed and familiar chilled-out USA locale, which initially feels non threatening-but the terror is still there lurking in the shadows, if you happen to be "not one of them locals". The subtle irony of the original song is more blatantly obvious in the cover (and somehow, the words "my wave, my beach, my property" feel much more terrifying when you hear them in your own language). My daughter is currently discussing displaced peoples at school, during her social studies lesson, and this song has unexpectedly proved to be a very decent educational tool, on top of everything else. A real present to the English-speaking fans, then.
As for the video clip (not offered here), it seems to be in a completely different mood to the song. I luckily watched it AFTER I had listen to this CD a few times. Akerlund's not bad here, but his repertoire of ideas for video clips feels rather limited (sex, boobs, sex, boobs and so on and so forth; no doubt delightful for anyone of us who doesn't have their own pair to look at, whenever they wish). I miss the times when R+ used to make disturbing and beautiful video pieces such as e.g. Sonne, Links and the sublime "Mein Teil". One element I loved on this clip was the fake smiles, pleasant in the 60ies and painted on in 2012; that was a brilliant touch. Fakeness and pretence (social or otherwise) appears to be a big issue with R+; they seem like they are unable to support it and wish to destroy it, hand and claw. Unlike the cannibal in "Mein Teil", who expresses the view "Etwas Kultur muss sein", R+ do not believe in fake propriety and meaningless manners. If you are going to be "eaten alive" or be a victim in any way, they want you to be open-eyed enough to realise the fact that, at least for you, there will be no cultural (or any kind of) benefits in that process.
All in all a superb release, reminiscent of the old killer combination of the socially aware yet ultra-sexy R+ that we all know and love, the ones who used to give cultural tips and social comments in their old website of 10-12 years ago, who gave a song to the soundtrack of Lilja 4ever and who managed to arouse us at the same moment that they made us think. Can't wait to see them performing this song at the O2 in London, later this month!