The jaded oddity of the old European pop-acts makes it feel like they existed in some far gone stone age with synthesizers. Onwards in the modern day, all imports from our nearest neighbours come with caution, namely, are they more Aqua or Ace of Base? Luckily, with their successful break out onto UK press and radio outlets, the German duo Me and My Drummer have proven their own brand of contemporary dream/alt-pop is more than tolerable. Their debut album The Hawk, The Beak, The Prey meshes influences in hip hop, electro and some more obscure areas into an impassioned and thought provoking collection of ballads that hang delicately onto the ledge rather than go over the top.
The band’s name may seem like it’s trying too hard to charm, but does good in premiering the band’s semi-minimalist approach. To no one’s surprise the male half holding the sticks, Matze Pröllochs, procures a tempo ridden presence within the songs that never really bends into neck breaking speeds, but still adds an eerie ambiance only outdone by keyboardist and lead singer Charlotte Brandi. The two are quite adapt at variation, with early track “Rain Kids” heavy both in skin hammering and subject matter, with the song’s title (and Brandi’s drowning vocals) begging for a music video filmed on a water proof sound stage.
The more subdued “Mother Shell” shares the same grandiose setup, but saves it as the final crescendo after starting off with a hardly audible melody and blooming drum rhythm. From this, one can easily spot the two’s background as theatre musicians, though it’s reared for more prevalently in “Don’t Be So Hot” and “Down on My Couch”, which both rely on a digital-less instruments; the former coming across as plotted lounge music, whilst the latter would be at home in any West End musical.
The very well received second single from the album, “You’re a Runner”, may invite some unfair comparisons to Nikki & The Dove, but it possesses its own room stopping ability, with a striking opening lyric and a beat-like pant that adds a built in thematic quality. Its status as the most personal song is a stretch, but the story seems to have so much importance that it reappears in the final bookending track “Runner (Reprise)”, chronicling the eternity that is life’s end.
The record as a whole successfully taps into this ethereal plain, seen no more plainly than in “The Wings”, which lifts itself with a choir and swoops down again with segments dominated only by Brandi’s and her musical partner’s drumming; the epitome of the band’s namesake. The song writing itself potentially blends notions of feminism and philosophy, or at least you can argue it does with the lyrics, “Yes my children will tend to ask questions like ‘when are we gonna die’. And there’s no connection between giving birth to me and making me survive” in “Mother Shell”.
Bringing this review full circle, the first single “Heavy Weight” bears the biggest resemblance to that mish mash of Europop ballads, with its trance orientation and nostalgic flair. But whilst it’s far enough removed from anything in the 70s or 80s, the all too noticeable traits of enriched cultures helps to make the song, and Me and My Drummer’s music in general, a strong indication that is not something of this land.
Release: 21st September 2012, Sinnbus Records