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The Deadnotes - 'Courage' Album Review


1. Makeup

2. Never Perfect

3. Ghost on the Ceiling

4. Cling to You

5. Failsafe

6. Functionality

7. I Must Have Been Blind

8. Fickle Fake Friend

9. Get Lost, Get Found

10. Hopeless Romantic

I decide to play a few tracks from 'Courage', the latest offering from The Deadnotes before delving deeper to discover more about the band. ‘American’, I say to myself, ‘three young bucks from the Midwest of nowhere’. Well, I got that one wrong.

They hail from Freiburg in the Breisgau region of Germany at the edge of the Black Forest, as un American as you can get, and now that I know that I can hear something in the accent of Darius Lohmüller, lead vocalist and guitar player: though, I still think the band have a US guitar driven sound.

I guess it’s difficult to avoid that sort of label if you play the kind of Indie Pop The Deadnotes do. They describe themselves as Indie Punk, but I think that’s a bit of a stretch. They might have the Punk passion in their hearts, judging by some of their live vids, and I dare say they have listened to a few Punk records in their time, but, I’m sorry, they are not Punk. They don’t dress Punk, they don’t look Punk, they don’t sound Punk.

The guitars are a bit too clean, as is the production, and the songs try a little too hard to appeal, without the rawness required to claim that Punk tag. That said, I decide to take a listen back to 'I’ll Kiss All Fears Out Of Your Face', their 2016 album and it is a little rawer, with much edgier vocals from Darius.

The songs on 'Courage' are much brighter, smoother and more polished, which in some ways is a shame as the overall sound is a little generic and leaves the band without a clear identity. I know what they are, but I’m not quite sure what they want to become.

They can play alright, and they make a big sound for a three-piece. With Jakob Walheim’s throbbing bass and Yannic Arrens pounding the skins it’s hard not get into the rhythmic hum of each song and with the perfect synchronicity of Lohmüller’s and Walheim’s vocal harmonies they produce a perfect Pop Rock vibe.

'Makeup' is an obvious choice for a single and it’s accompanied by a coolly kitsch video. If I have to pick out a couple of favourites, 'Cling To You' and 'Ghost On The Ceiling' say everything about the band’s sound, but none of the songs are stand out enough for me to get too excited.

I don’t love it and I don’t hate it, it’s wallpaper music: it blends into the background a bit too easily for my liking. To that end, 'Courage' is a good but inoffensive listen. It’s not a criticism, it’s a fact but I hope this is a success for The Deadnotes because they definitely have something. That something, however, is just not for me.

Review - Mark Welby Johnson

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