Location: Berlin, Germany
Slacker was my introduction to German shoegaze/post-punk rockers Havemeyer and what an intro it was. The band’s dreamy brand of smooth, emotional rock incorporates not just indie pop cathines and shoegaze atmosphere, but also the punchy energy of alternative rock and the spunky spirit of post-punk.
I would say that one of the album’s biggest draws is that it can be listened to in multiple settings, ranging from sitting at home working on something or cooking to hanging out with friends in a social setting, to driving, to lying in bed at night and simply just soaking it in. It has something to offer to each of these activities and settings and a little something for everyone. There’s also a song for every mood on the album, something that many artists strive to achieve but don’t quite pull off. It’s both the variety of different influences, as well as the shifting pace and energy levels on each track that give it this power.
As mentioned, there’s a lot of varied influences at play here ranging from The Smiths, TV On The Radio and Sonic Youth to Modest Mouse and Interpol. The band have taken the best elements of each of these acts and worked them into something that isn’t quite any of them, while simultaneously being all of them. There’s a soothing familiarity to the music, it’s the sounds that we know and love but fresh and exciting. That sense of familiarity will hit a little differently for any Australian listeners that may pick this one up. Yes, I know that the band is German, but they STRONGLY remind me in a few parts of one of my favourite Australian acts, Eskimo Joe, a sound that I don’t hear too often. They particularly bringing to mind their 2006 album Black Fingernails Red Wine on track 2. Hold The Line and to a lesser extent the opening track, Vanishing (which ties in some additional Smiths elements).
This is one of those albums where I can’t really praise a specific element as standing out from the rest, because everyone in this band plays their part perfectly and without each of their contribution it simply wouldn’t be what it is. The guitars are amazing, carrying a perfect level of emotion while also being atmospheric but simultaneously impressively complex. It’s their tone that really makes them so powerful though, it’s both warm and comforting but also melancholic and moody. The band self-describe them as being “orchestral guitars” and I feel like this is the best way to put it.
The bass work flows right behind the guitar and sometimes right over or through it, keeping in true post-punk tradition and sitting high in the mix and being a key driver of the album’s overall energy. The drum work on the album is simply spectacular, bringing a tonne of energy to the album while also helping set the mood at any given moment. It’s this type of drum work that draws me back to quality indie rock and post-punk time and time again.
Where would we be without the vocals though, these are just as varied as the instrumentals. They have a somewhat 80s feeling to them and yet don’t feel like a throwback or imitation in any way. I get hints of so many classic singers ranging from Morrisey to Thurston Moore, as well as more modern vocalists such as Kavyen Temperley. The range that Jan and Dennis display here is astounding, and their use of harmonies, layering and effects is masterful. They also really know how to write a catchy earworming chorus, which I attribute to their pop influences.
As far as favourite tracks go it’s no easy task to pick from the plethora of killer songs on offer here. If I had to pick an overall favourite it would probably be Headlines, the song is just perfect in every way. It has a spacey, simplistic quality to it but its stripped back nature is where its beauty lies. It allows the vocals to really shine in the mix and that simple, repetitive guitar melody that runs throughout worms its way into your brain. In close second is Pick Me Up, which I will praise for very similar reasons, although instead of a simplistic repetitive guitar rhythm we get some real variety and some added complexity.
If I had to pick a few other standouts I would say that Vanishing starts the album off perfectly with a mix of melancholic beauty and catchy upbeat energy. Moonlight has a great energy, a catchy rhythm and some great guitar work. Breathless has what I would describe as the Smithsest sound, giving me some real Morrisey vibes throughout. Two Weeks is a stunning closer that leaves the listener on an emotional note, while also throwing in some truly stellar guitar work.
Overall, this is one hell of an album and one that immediately caught my ear. I actually meant to cover it several weeks ago but unfortunately life happens. For anyone who is a fan of indie rock/shoegaze/post-punk type music this is an album that is not to be missed. From start to finish the band delivers, to the point that I honestly couldn’t pick out a song that I didn’t enjoy, I simply enjoyed some a little more.
Listen to and order the album: