Nena

Willst Du Mit Mir Gehn

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It was Nena's all-important follow-up album, after the spectacular return to massive success brought on by her 20th anniversary album, Nena Feat. Nena (a triumph of marketing, especially considering the uncharacteristically below-par content of those re-recordings of past hits -- commonly a dubious exercise even for the best of artists). The album's title asks Willst Du mit Mir Gehen? (Are You Going With Me?) and the newly won audience indeed did "go along" by again securing platinum status. The double set (one "red" CD, one "orange") mirrors Nena's newly disjointed take on music: the "red" album (recorded mainly in Berlin) initially just seems like an unambitious return to simplicity (after the intricate Chokmah album of 2001). Worse still, it begins with two of four disco-based songs (a "style" she had always been wise enough to avoid until then). But never fear, that can easily be discounted (as inexplicable as it is), in comparison to the remaining three quarters of this lavish double set. In fact, the "orange" album (culled from spontaneous sessions with her touring band during a summer break on the Spanish island of Mallorca) turns out to be a sensational step forward: Nena finally takes the no-holds-barred plunge into the kind of music that she grew up admiring but had never fully used for her own songwriting. What you get here is mostly slow-moving, free-flowing, expansive rock, somber but soothing music, fully enveloping the listener in warm soundscapes, echoing elements of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin (including the latter's Asian influences). These songs are very much about irritation and a lack of obvious solutions -- a revolutionary break from Nena's usual conciliatory image. But there lies the logic of putting the "red" and "orange" albums into one set: to expand the usual spectrum. Knowing the "orange" album, it becomes clear that its influence also "radiates" into a portion of the "red" songs. Some of those are simple but "classic Nena," like the top hit ballad "Liebe Ist," or the beautifully balanced "Immer Weiter," but others already touch on the special "flowing atmosphere" that dominates the "orange" part. By just indulging (including keeping the lyrics really basic and "simple") and disregarding the pressure of "having to make it this time," Nena found the right path, and richly set the stage for further developments.

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