Laune Der Natur, by Die Toten Hosen
Suggested by Alex Hamilton
So. A German punk album as the first offering. I suppose if you’re looking for guttural, shouty and full of anger, German is the correct choice.
I value lyricism in music, perhaps a little too much. This means an album entirely in a foreign language is a hard sell from the opening bars of Track 1. I can take it from bands like Rammstein, who have a much more industrial and doomladen feel, and hell, I happily sing along to the german section of Zappa’s Stick It Out, albeit phonetically. Punk, however, with its passion and emotion largely valued above musicality, is a tricky one. It’s hard to get behind the drive of the songs, as for all you know you’re punching the air to a love song for Josef Fritzl.
Die Toten Hosen do have drive, and they are catchy songs, but if I’m honest I thought the singer let them down a touch. A combination of rasping growls and german phrases made nuance impossible in the slower tracks, and while the anthemic numbers with their chantable choruses did tick the boxes, the shouty backing vocals and genre-decreed repetitiveness made them come across as lager-fuelled drinking songs, as if your local alt metal club was holding a bierkeller theme night.
To their credit, the songs embraced a number of styles, with some feeling quite folk-punk (I’m thinking a heavy Levellers), and some of the slower numbers successfully changing the pace and timbre of the album. My favourite track is ICE nach Dusseldorf, which has a more forthright Rock feel to it, but there were plenty of others I enjoyed. Nothing punched me in the throat and demanded I paid attention, sadly.
I can’t escape the fact that I found it hard to emotionally connect with PUNK songs in a foreign language. The music asks you to have passion, but I didn’t understand what for. Maybe in my youth I’d have been up for Googling the lyrics and checking the translation, but as a 46-year-old curmudgeon I don’t like the idea of songs that require research.
Overall, I’m giving this 5/10, which seems a little unfair even to me. If it were in English? Maybe 6/10 or 7/10. I am aware that this is entirely my own bias. Would I listen again? Unlikely. Would I listen to more by the band? Sure.