NEULANDER: Smoke + Fire: CD

Apr 02, 2009

Sometimes, it just takes one line from one song to drag a listener into an album. For this listener and this album, the line was “I’ve lived in funeral cities/ and I’ve lived in golden towns,” from the song “Flying.” While this listener still has no idea what it is that is so captivating about that line, she confesses that it sucked her deep intoSmoke + Fire and she has yet to be able to escape. This debut album from New York-based duo Korinna Knoll and Adam Peters (ex-Echo and the Bunnymen), is filled with lyrics that are sort of vague and lovely and make you sit around and wonder if this is all just fantasy or reality? What exactly is “Middle East” about? Is it a travelogue of sorts? A protest song? Musically, Neulander has the minimal electronic pop style down, with dollops of Neu and Can influences to give the album a sort of psychedelic, lo-fi new wave sound. Knoll has the vocals – the husky, accented vocals that are distinctly European, although it is difficult to tell exactly whereabouts. Or, it could be that she isn’t European at all, but an American who listened to too much Nico while growing up. Alas, a press sheet check confirmed that Knoll is Austrian. Accents, Krautrock, electronic pop—isn’t this all a little like Stereolab? Perhaps, in parts there seems to be a similarity between the two, but Neulander really has developed its own sound. Given it a listen and you might end up caught in the smoke and fire as well.

 –liz (Disko B; )