Xmal Deutschland

Tocsin

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AllMusic Review by

Xmal Deutschland's second full-length album is a creative high point, a Teutonic marriage of Siouxsie & the Banshees' inviting Goth-pop and the majestic sonic spaces of the Cocteau Twins. Less offputtingly bleak than the quartet's earlier records, but without the unfortunate candy coating of the albums that followed, these 11 songs are precariously balanced between neo-psychedelic pop in the traditional 4AD style -- the opening "Mondlicht" would not sound out of place on a This Mortal Coil album -- and the more aggressive, artsy sound of their first EPs. The former is clearly winning; "Incubus Succubus II," a much glossier remake of the song that first garnered U.K. attention for the group, features a less tortured (but still German-language) vocal from Anja Huwe over a smooth, throbbing pulse that trades in the spiky scrappiness of the original for a clean, but not antiseptic thrust. The clash of styles actually works quite well, giving Tocsin a palpable creative tension that adds a frisson of intensity to what might otherwise be just another collection of Goth-pop tunes.

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