Smoke + Fire


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Smoke + Fire Review

by Jason MacNeil

Neulander is an acquired taste for a niche audience. The duo includes singer Korinna Knoll over a trip-hop or quasi-dance beat most of the time, resembling a feminine Maximilian Hecker in some respects. "Sex, God + Money" has a Nico-esque sound as the lines are delivered in a stiff, monotone flavor over an Eurythmics-like synth precision. Producer Nick Laird-Clowes gets a far better effort from them on the slow-building "If You Could," a stream of conscious tune as some Eno-ish ambience enters the rolling fray. A hypnotic "Girl Out Walking" is excellent as Knoll and Adam Peters strike the right balance between electro and pop, comparing fairly well to Dido. "Flying" hits paydirt immediately, a lovable melody that is the polar opposite of acts like Peaches in terms of content. This light pop groove continues with a catchy yet quirky "Middle East," moody and quite sultry at the same time. Neulander evokes images of a Berlin homage to New Order on the toe-tapping "Blue Bird Party," with its guitar jangle but tight rhythm. However, the melancholic "Sometimes" is a lounge lizard's attempt at something Chris de Burgh or even Björk would bypass. Perhaps "Schauspieler" is the enigma on the album, an impressive and evolving song that gains momentum halfway through. This album has a bit of eclectic flare that recalls The Velvet Underground's cool with synth pop sensibility.

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