It Only Takes One Night (Don't Forget Me)

Berlinette by Ellen Allien

When it comes to pop music, I instinctively mentally flinch. It's not that I look down on pop music, or that I don't enjoy it. But there are just pop acts out there today that make me flinch. I like to reason that these artists are talented in their own right, that the reason people love them is because they're good at making music that is kind of like snack food. You can't live off it, of course, but it's there, it lasts for while, and you feel good in that moment that you have it. And when that moment is over, maybe you feel a little guilty that you listened to something you can clearly see is not good for you now, but it is what it is.

So when I started Berlinette, I was braced for anything, whether it was slightly better snack-food-music (like Anniemal, unfortunately. It's good, just not something I'd want to live off of), or just something I'd have to push through and regret later on. So I was surprised when it was clear from the opener "Alles Sehen" that it was neither, but one of those rare pop albums that you might actually want to listen to again.

The most noticeable thing about this album is its focus on sounds; you won't find crappy lyrics about heartbreak or someone cheating on someone else. Generally speaking, the lyrics are very simple — "Trashscapes Voc" features the lyric "The past is a light train to unknown trashscapes", while "Wish" mainly repeats the lines "Need a planet without cars and wars/No wars, no cars/I wish it could be true". Even "Sehnsucht" uses the single word "Ah" beautifully. Berlinette features beautifully dense beats, off-kilter yet dance-able, with electronic skitterings and blips. It treats even its vocals as one more texture to the soundscape, though they don't sacrifice meaning in order to accomplish this.

What Ellen Allien manages to accomplish in Berlinette is not new, or groundbreaking. It's just good, which is enough to set it apart from the rest.

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