Anger, power, alertness: the nerves deliver the album at the dreary time

Anger, power, wakefulness
The nerves deliver the album at the dreary time

Kevin Kuhn (drums), Julian Knoth (bass and vocals) and Max Rieger (guitar and vocals) are DieNERS.  Photo: Lucia Berlang

Kevin Kuhn (drums), Julian Knoth (bass and vocals) and Max Rieger (guitar and vocals) are DieNERS. photo

© Lucia Berlanga/Glitterhouse/dpa

DieNERS have long been considered one of the smartest and best German bands. With their fifth album, Max Rieger, Julian Knoth and Kevin Kühn set a new exclamation point. More intense music for the sadness of our time is hardly conceivable.

It was a goosebump moment when the German rock trio Dienerven in Jan Böhmermanns “ZDF Magazin Royale” premiered his new song a few months ago.

Europe” vibrated with anger and disbelief – probably every spectator immediately thought about what is currently happening on the continent and especially in Ukraine, which is being attacked by Russia.

A post-punk explosion introduced by a gentle acoustic guitar, emotional and stirring: “And somehow I thought/in Europe you never die…” – with this line of text, the musicians Max Rieger, Julian Knoth and Kevin Kühn, who live in Berlin and Baden-Württemberg, bring us to express their sadness about the misery of refugees and war. “Learn from mistakes/learn from suffering…” – the nerves no longer seem to trust the world and talk about it with an intensity reminiscent of Nirvana or Ton Steine ​​Scherben.

Flawless sound

If this year in Germany next to the Tocotronic album “Nie wieder Krieg” – which seems almost comfortable – there will be clever, critical music at a dreary time, then it’s the self-titled fifth album bynerve, founded in Esslingen in 2010. In addition to ten lyrics to think, frown and admire, the band delivers a cathedral-sized, yet flawless sound that has not been enjoyed in a local rock production for a long time – which is not least due to the expertise of what is currently perhaps the most popular German studio inventor, Max Rieger lies.

“We deliberately cut off any excess fat in the songwriting in order to find the essence of the respective songs and not to hide them behind flourishes,” says the 29-year-old in an interview with the German Press Agency and later adds: “The album should bursting at the seams, even when played at low volume.”

That’s why the guitar walls of nerves, no matter how powerful they pile up, never just seem bombastic. And string arrangements like in the melancholic “Ein influencers weeps itself to sleep” or in the concluding “180°” are not the usual sound icing here, they rather support the intensive message of the lyrics.

Speaking of which: Rarely is it worth listening to a German rock album, just lyrically, as much as in this case – by the way, not for the first time, see the predecessors “Out” (2015) or “Fake” (2018). In a music year that produced strong new works by the Hamburg School heroes Tocotronic, Jochen Distelmeyer (Blumfeld) and Die Sterne, the nerves as intelligent observers and portrayers of German and European realities are at the forefront.

Life in the ivory tower

Even a song like “Europe”, which rings so painfully in the ears, has a longer history. It was “created in 2019, before Corona and also before the war in Ukraine,” emphasizes Rieger in the dpa interview. “The feeling that something is wrong in Europe didn’t just come into the world in the last three years.” It’s about “the creeping insight that we can only live so decadently and well in the ivory tower of Europe because people outside our field of vision have to suffer. Corona and Russia’s war of aggression have brought a new level to the song, but of course it’s like that wasn’t planned.”

The second track “I die every day in Germany” looks even more closely at one’s own environment – some provocative and skeptical expressions of nerves will not please hooray patriots and southpaws. The theme of the punk rock cracker is “the ambivalence of living in this country, where many people are safe and happy, but it’s also crumbling in many corners and ends,” explains the singer.

The touching “Influencer” piece (Rieger: “not meant ironically, but very tragic”) and “15 seconds” (about a “strongly shortened own attention span”) are less political. As here, there are lines of lyrics scattered throughout the album that could be printed on t-shirts because they’re so catchy, clever, funny (examples: “Death isn’t doing well on Instagram” or “You have 15 seconds – bid something to me”).

The power of good rock music

“It wasn’t important to us to design T-shirt slogans,” counters Rieger. “It’s more like getting to the heart of a matter with as few and simple words as possible – but if possible in such a way that there is enough room for interpretation to interpret it in several directions.”

The album “The Nerves” is a rare phenomenon: a visionary work that combines the fury of punk, the power of good rock music and the alertness and empathy of the singer-songwriter guild. The renowned pop book author Maik Brüggemeyer (46, “Rolling Stone”) already suspects in his current newsletter: “An album that we will often quote in the coming months.”

It is already certain that Rieger/Knoth/Kuhn will soon be in many annual best lists with their new studio release. Whether the status as a critic’s darling can also be converted into well-deserved major sales successes? It seems quite possible – not only because of the beautiful dog head cover. For Max Rieger, that’s certainly not crucial for an album that’s so artistically successful, but he also says: “We take what we can get.”

The nerves’ self-titled fifth album (“Dienerve”) will be released on Friday (October 7th) via Glitterhouse/Indigo.

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