Nena

Wenn Alles Richtig Ist Dann Stimmt Was Nich

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On her 1998 album Wenn Alles Richtig Ist Dann Stimmt Was Nich, Nena refocused on rock in a way she hadn't done since the demise of her original band in 1987. Her solo albums had all tended toward a somewhat milder sound, but now she decided to make sure that the emphasis of the new songs came back to rock basics. Album opener "Es Ist in Ordnung" ("It's Alright") firmly sees to that right up front, subsequently becoming one of the new focal points of her live sets -- importantly so, coming at a point at which she seriously got back on the road again, touring intermittently in various doses, similar to Bob Dylan's Never Ending Tour method of the same time period. The title of the album translates as When Everything's Right, Something's Wrong, and indeed, knowing how to differentiate turns out to be a key quality of Nena's new songs. That, as such, wouldn't be new to her way of writing, but the balance she strikes on this album between rock basics and colorful stylistic imagination (plus great tunes) is as near to perfection as anything since her breakthrough album of 1983. Finely dosed self-depreciative humor pervades the album, but by the end its Nena's special gift of making the listener feel that -- all things considered -- things are indeed alright, that makes for the essence of the experience. Nena's musical influences shine through on various songs: the Kinks, the Byrds, early- and late-period Beatles are all in evidence, but there's also room for some stylistic alchemy. "Meine Kleine Heile Welt" ("My Wholesome Little World") even juxtaposes a heavy new wave grind with a kind of children's tune to great effect. The closing track, "Heul Dich bei Mir Aus" ("I'll Sooth Your Crying") is carried along with an elegance reminiscent of classic Led Zeppelin acoustic moments, but the following bonus track, "Wir Machen Keine Kunst" ("This Isn't Art"), is a perfect little punk shock to make sure that things don't end on a too serious note. Not that she had been far from it recently, but this album really does fit the phrase "return to form."

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