Almost bursting with dark and apocalyptic string arrangements, Stadtaffe, Peter Fox's first solo album, is at the same time a demanding and rewarding -- if somewhat dark -- listening experience. When Fox's main employer, Berlin's dancehall export number one Seeed, took a well-deserved break from touring in 2006, Pierre Baigorry (aka Enuff) adopted yet another moniker, took his new persona to a small studio in Kreuzberg, and went to work on an album originally planned to feature Gnarls Barkley's Cee-Lo Green on vocal duties. When that didn't work out (due to the unexpected worldwide success of Green's alleged side project), Fox decided to make a proper solo album instead, relying on his always raspy voice and genuine Berliner Schnauze (blunt typical Berlin dialect). Not straying to far from Seeed's signature dancehall mélange, Fox belts out a whole string of songs that are exclusively designed for the dancefloor -- and rather obviously with a whole summer of festival performances in mind. Stadtaffe proves that Fox is a gifted lyricist and has a way with words as well as rhythm and beats. The singer's inspiration in terms of the songs' arrangements, however, can seem limited at times -- and slightly misled at others. The Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberger, who donated massive string arrangements to almost every single track on the album, add a good handful of spatial dimensions to the album and give the whole affair a slightly eerie spin at times. Blaring brass and soul-soaked background vocals add even more grandiloquence, an attribute that seems to clash with the songs' topics at times and doesn't always complement every song's original idea too well. When it works, however (and more often than not it does), the effect is that of a train hurtling full-speed toward you, and it may be this raw energy that propelled Stadtaffe to the top of the charts in Germany, making it one of the most successful albums of 2008.
AllMusic Review by Nico Tobias Wirtz
feat: Vanessa Mason