Though around since 1989, The Notwist only broke into the slightly larger indie-world consciousness with 2002's Neon Golden. The long gestation was worth it: Golden is one of the most accomplished, moving, and elegiac electro-pop albums of the millennium, like Bonnie "Prince" Billy's I See A Darkness with synths. The Devil, You + Me is no less realized—it's just less soothing. "I would never beat you up" is the best that "On Planet Off" can promise, which pretty much sums up the mood: superficially calm, but a lot less accommodating than before. Instead of offering obvious string swoops, the electronics, woodwinds, and accoutrements are more densely layered and less obviously hooky. As the long-overdue follow-up to a widely beloved album, it's not bad at all: After years of unsuccessful experimentation, The Notwist isn't about to ditch a sound it took this long to find. As a standalone unit, it's a bit too pallid and self-consciously dour to serve as an introduction for newcomers. For those already hooked, though, The Devil should make a fine soundtrack for a depressive summer.
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