Alas the high points on Tiefschwarz's second album are overshadowed by the bulky...
Jack Smith 2005
The phrase 'eat books' is not to be taken literally; it has metaphorical license in Germany, meaning if you like a book a lot you don't just read it, you devour it.
Tiefschwarz's second LPtakes this statement of passion and uses it as a central motif: gone are the rainbow flavours of their debut, Ral 9005; the beats here are virile, the vocals visceral and the body of the album built from linear grooves that leave no room for ambiguity.
Recent single 'Wait & See' (a collaboration with Chikinki) showcases their current mood perfectly with huge, shimmering synths, colossal bass stabs and punkish vocals: the questing spirit of 80s post-punk writ large.
The album unfolds in a similarl manner, via an array of floor-filling vocal tracks. Matty Safer's gutsy voicematches the scratchy rock guitars, acid bleeps and chugging grooves on opener "Warning Siren", while Ed Laliq bravely rides the nonchalantly-paced, "Troubled Man". "Damage" provides a moment of levity, its deft fusion of disco, house and Detroit machine soul - a perfectly ethereal soundtrack for veteran vocalist Tracy Thorn.
"Benedict" sounds like it could have come straight from the famous Klang studios; the gently burbling "Far East" also offers Kraftwerk style leitmotifs and the minimalistic "Artificial Chemicals" (also featuring Chikinki) has the air of the electro-prototype about it.
But the album has blind sides. The instrumental tracks don't hold up too well, being generally rich in sound but lacking ideas and overall content, and certain vocal tunes buckle slightly under the weight of their tremendous bulk - "Original" and the blithely titled "Schmetterlingsflugel" ('Butterfly Wings') for example.
While the limited changes begin to dull the senses, the persistently pumping pace also starts to sound redundant. This is an album, we realize, whose power lies in its impressive clarity of sound and potent grandeur rather than in its average attempts at songwriting.
Critics are wailing about Eat Books being the freshest thing since Daft Punk but as well-executed as it is, the dominant sound here is of the electroclash bandwagon being jumped on, yet again.