Today the German Indie Heroes TOCOTRONIC release their new album Wie wir leben wollen. It’s is the long awaited 10th album and also marks the 20th year of the bands history. A band which might never gained success outside the boarders of their home country (mainly because they never wanted to), but within them these four men are almost legends and most likely the biggest and most successful indie group of Germany. Just to set this up straight from the beginning.
TOCOTRONIC‘s history is of course a story of their own notably development, further it is an ongoing progress. In this case, to look back means to locate the band’s earliest days in the times of grunge music, when they even played a sound, that wasn’t far away from bands like SONIC YOUTH, and it also means to recognize their later fantastic records of the self proclaimed Berlin Triologie, as well as their last two clearly conceptual albums, which have shown this kind of elaborate and well engineered sound that you know from the late BEATLES. The band and especially their charismatic singer Dirk von Lowtzow moved from the position of a prototype student, writing songs about challenging the own identity and the self locating in this bigger framework called life, to a kind of smart and well educated dandyism, creating a fully functional life plan with every new record they made.
Therefore the new record Wie wir leben wollen (“How we want to live”) works as a declaration of being and as a concept of acting, better than ever before. On 17 tracks the band celebrates again the creation of an own screenplay of life, wrapped into songs and sounds. To share some thoughts earlier with the audience and to spread approaches on such a significant question how everyone would like to alter its life, the band announced to publish ninety-nine theses, day by day until the official album release. On these sometimes more, sometimes less reasonable phrases you can find answers like “self-exiled”, “as a myth but without glory” or “as Marie Antoinette”. Most of them quickly start making sense when you listen the record for the first time, and you recognize them as lyrical fragments.
Another one of 99 is Im Keller (“At the Basement”), which is also the first song on the album. Starting as a nice twee pop number, the self ironic lines like “Ich bin jetzt alt, bald bin ich kalt” (“Now I’m old, soon I’ll be cold”) phase in a personal look back on an unexciting everyman’s life and its interchangeability. This one is followed by the new single Auf dem Pfad der Dämmerung (“On the path of twilight”) and the beautiful song Abschaffen (“Abolishment”). It names up a feeling of the attendance of a bigger unknown force followed by suspense and fear if it comes to subversion, which seems to be very close. It leads into the Chorus “Man sagt die Revolution, werde zuletzt den Tod abschaffen” (“The Revolution will abolish the dead at the end, they say”) which is repeated again and again and again.
Chloroform brings back an often recurring topic in TOCOTRONIC‘s music, the way of an honest and guilt-free self abandonment instead of participating nowadays performance society. The Idea of anonymity as a protective cloak, as a chance on rehabilitation as well as trapdoor into oblivion is shown. All is chanted highly critic but coated in country music-like lap steal guitars and a smooth offbeat tambourine. From now on the Album shows its most melodic sides, but is soon back with a nearly hypnotic tune like Die Verbesserung der Erde (“The Improvement of Earth”) that is gently built on a resonating guitar that bends in long loops over the background and starts to mix up with the echo of the vocals until it comes to shoegaze-like wall of sound that’s only broken by the crystal clear cymbals until it collapses with a short peak.
The second half of the longplayer shows up a bunch of surprising sounds, and proves that TOCOTRONIC are still able to reinvent themselves. Fragments of dreamy shoegaze as well as heavy psychedelic guitars are rotating, gave an impressing variety and interrupt the summary of pop songs on this album.
The song Neue Zonen (“New Zones”) convinces once again in an enchanting way and navigates back to the sweet melodies. A sneaky bassline, rhodes, and on top the excellent winds of Jakobus Siebels (of German Band JA KÖNIG JA) make that song feather-light and shows the band inside unusual harmonies, more than ever when Dirk von Lowtzow sings “Wir haben weiche Ziele, wir sind Plüschophile” (“We have soft targets, we are plushophiles”). With two more Songs, the rockin title track Wie wir leben wollen and the more dreamy“Unter dem Sand (“Under the Sand”) the record ends and let’s you do just one thing. You’ll get up and flip the side of this record. And this might even work without understanding each and every word on it.
TOCOTRONIC on NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION