German rockers who, despite highs on this sixth LP, may remain lost in translation.
Alistair Lawrence 2011-05-11
Bands who have achieved massive success in less fashionable climes seem to be approached with an unfair level of caution: the suspicion that they must be doing something wrong to not have made it in the UK earlier.
German punk-rockers with reggae sympathies by reputation, Beatsteaks are multi-platinum stars and an awkward sell on paper here. On record, they’re better described as straight-up pop-rock band with some raucous elements and slow jams sprinkled intermittently into the mix. Boom Box is their sixth studio album and, despite a push from a major label for the first time in this country, is unlikely to change their status on these shores.
It’s not because they’re bad, just idiosyncratic to the point where rock fans conditioned to acts exhibiting myriad influences might not be able to decide whether they’re dated, clichéd or just too different to palette. Fix It is a disorientating opener with a characteristically eccentric streak, Arnim Teutoburg-Weiß’s fluent but second-language lyrics (he sings in English) swirling into the mix alongside laughs and cries that all seem powered by the reverb that accompanies them like a minder. The Biffy Clyro-esque Under a Clear Blue Sky might have been their best bet for the first single in this country – as it stands, Milk & Honey’s repeated unironic references to "cool cats" could well mark them for commercial death.
Arriving just before the halfway point, Bullets from Another Dimension manages to combine all their best qualities to ensure the album finishes stronger than it starts: fast breaks, crooned choruses and life-affirming lyrics neatly explain their (mass) appeal. Access Adrenalin and Behaviour are the best of what follows, as they do what Beatsteaks do best: sound friendly and familiar rather than derivative, while radiating enough confidence for you to trust and indulge them. The more down-tempo, far-out and less-rousing moments – and there are a few of them – require more patience. So, while there are more than a just a few ex-pats who will discover and enjoy them for the first time here, they can expect to stay largely lost in translation.