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YADA YADA – Odd Couple, Cargo Records
If you want to learn about the East Frisians‘ serenity and brevity, you are heavily recommended to watch the Grimme-winning documentary „Schnaps im Wasserkessel“ by Hans-Erich Viet. In fact, the one minute excerpt on YouTube that showcases stoic rural worker Katharina Wilkens hesitating to put down her tea cup in order to pick up her harmonica and play „In Ostfriesland ist es am besten“ to both director and audience suffices. What the elder lady and Odd Couple have in common? It’s being relaxed about other people’s expectations, trusting their own pace and conveying a reliable performance. But foremost it is healthy skepticism about unnecessary chit-chat.
This conversation glosser-over, this blah blah, this and so on and so forth is “Yada Yada”. The album is Odd Couple’s third. And with the third album comes a third participant: the Franconian Dennis Schulze joins the couple to form a weird three-piece. While their debut „It’s a Pressure to Meet You“ had been concerned with big city postures and urban small talk, the second album “Flügge” ventured a musical criss-crossing of genre boundaries. The kaleidoscopic coming of age-record even showed nuances of inventive hip hop- albums. The still hedonism-avoiding lyrics oscillated between critique of the self and the system and culminated in the lyric „Du weißt genau, dass du jetzt was ändern musst“(you know for sure you have to change things now).
So what is to follow after they have dared to jump into the Spree and learn to swim? Blah? In fact the unease that the band feels in respect to the self and the world has not yet ended. How should it have in times of binge watching and collective procrastination? In times that put the like on your display over the cold of the homeless to your feet? Still their weltschmerz never sounds sentimental, but always is a precise balancing act between sustainable lament and nonchalant
shrugging. 1:1 is over with. And dystopia has long arrived. Thus Odd Couple keep on showcasing our first world problems, knowing that our millennial feelings keep circling around nothing. You post your avocado toast, I live a little rock’n’roll, tomorrow the world is going to end, yada yada.
The album artwork by comic artist Paul Paetzel shows no angry young man, but a sceptic with bloodshot eyes. Odd Couple’s irony never comes across too clever or meta, but likeable and dry. Instead of hysteric silliness you get well-dosed nonsense. Instead of sleazy chauvinism, romantic subtlety. And in fact love as an epic theme is the only resort when escaping into the woods or planning kids or travelling to California and Saigon can’t seem to help against the feeling of
global guilt and digital atomization. The lyrics may from time to time spin in circles – both in “Yada Yada” and “Katta,” the journey seems to go without a plan – but the musical search for it is the proverbial destination. More experimental, more mature than on “Flügge” the music transcends what can’t be dissolved lyrically. The gravity of self-critical contemplation takes off and finds a liberating catharsis in forceful guitars, elated groaning, in cosmic shots and alien synthesizer spheres, in nostalgic glam and thrilling riffs. The songs give more room to pop structures, transitions are more innovative and changes in rhythm come more unexpectedly. All this is mastered much without a fuss and in a surprisingly organic manner. And it is exactly their contrasting off odd couples, of dike and metropolis, of local and cosmopolitan, of German and English, lethargic lyric and actionist music that create a genuine area of conflict which can be a lot of fun.
„Ich lauf den ganzen Weg als wüsste ich wo lang, doch die Wahrheit ist, ich rat nur und hab gar keinen Plan“ (I walk the whole way like I knew where to go, but the truth is: I’m only guessing and I don’t have no plan) – the self-diagnosed cluelessness and the “Yada Yada” are thus red herrings, East Frisian understatement. And this is exactly what the magic is all about. Just like Frau Wilkens, obliviously blowing into her harmonica.