Their first release since original drummer Frank Tirado-Rosales was replaced by Christian Hake, Hamburg indie pop quintet Kettcar's fourth studio album, Zwischen den Runden, is likely to have disappointed their newest recruit if he was hoping to "rock out." The follow-up to 2008's Sylt offers the occasional burst of energy such as opening track, "Rettung," a brilliant, quirky love song based on the aftermath of a particularly boozy night out, which rather fittingly sways from Strokes-esque garage rock to groove-laden jazz-pop to triumphant synth-folk in three-and-a-half slightly disorientating minutes; the foot-stomping, Elvis Costello-inspired honky tonk of "Im Club" and "Schrilles, Buntes Hamburg," a propulsive, fuzz-laden, twisted love letter to their hometown. But the majority of its 12 tracks are notable for their rather solemn pace and a sense of melancholy and reflection which appears more suited to frontman Marcus Wiebusch's deadpan Leonard Cohen-ish tones. Fans of their early Brit-pop sound may be bemused by the ventures into easy listening territory on "R.I.P.," a gently shuffling acoustic number which recalls the MOR blues of Chris Rea and the smoky jazz bar vibes of "In Deinen Armen." But elsewhere, their warmer and calmer sound feels more like a natural progression, whether it's the atmospheric chamber pop of "Schwebend," the fingerpicking balladry of "Nach Suden," or the heart-breaking closer "Zuruck Aus Ohlsdorf," a beautifully subtle orchestral tribute to a late friend. A subtle and convincing reinvention, Zwischen den Runden suggests Kettcar are entering the second chapter of their career with a promising, newfound maturity.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien