Jens Friebe’s new album: keep your cool


Between dandy and craftsman: The Berlin pop star Jens Friebe releases a sober and at the same time elegant album with “Wir sind schön”.

Jens Friebe in a blue balalaika blouse and heavy make-up

Multichecker Jens Friebe wears make-up and a balalaika blouse Photo: Max Zerrahn

One can easily become jealous of the Berlin musician and writer Jens Friebe. Because the 46-year-old not only succeeds in everything, but also with ease. Whether Friebe plays the guitar and sings, writes articles for feuilletons, publishes a book or drops remarks in conversations – none of it seems to give him trouble.

For various newspapers he reviews new literature and current music as if F. Scott Fitzgerald were busy with his free time. And when a large publisher made an offer to Friebe, the bidder arranged essays and short stories written for a blog into an entertaining, thought-provoking volume “52 Weekends”.

Most emphatically, however, Friebe has spoken out since the noughties with tasteful, soberly arranged pop songs, those handy combinations of thoughts and song.

Less macho is better

When composing, Friebe has always been guided by the insight that a man doesn’t look better the more masculinity – i.e. a proudly displayed taciturnity that alternates with monologues out of fear of a conversation – he shows. In order to develop this insight sustainably, Friebe needs a form that has to be worked on. The artist finds her by meeting up with his unusually nervous fellow musician Chris Imler at producer Berend Intelmann’s studio for recordings.

The music that was created there documents a mixture of dandy attitude and craftsmanship in album form. Friebe’s songs mischievously act as if they didn’t want much at first. But it quickly becomes apparent how skilfully Friebe has equipped her with bon mots and charm.

This also applies to the piece “Microdoser”, which opens the new work “Wir sind schön”. To hesitantly dabbed keyboard tones, which push the buoyancy of an ostinato bass and a handclap to the water surface, Friebe sings so pointed consumer criticism as if he had been inspired by the early wrong colors: “Take until you are as you want.”

No profile neurosis

The “microdosers” can then be pictured as people who adopt an inner attitude that is compatible with their profile long before they start their professional lives. It allows them to refrain from making certain statements like this: We’re happy when we get well-paid jobs. Rather, the microdosers can announce the other way round: The well-paid jobs can be happy that we do them. How this intact self-confidence comes about is what Friebe sings characteristically: “They show up.”

The following title track “Wir sind schön” builds on full-bodied piano chords. Friebe sounds like an irresistibly angry one Rio Reiser. It’s just that, unlike Reiser, Friebe’s dream of social change is not over, but starts right away by occupying radio stations in order to send himself into the ether from there: “And we’ll take the rusty sabers off the walls. And we run into the transmitters, from the cellars to the heights”.

The refrain “We are beautiful”, supplemented with a lot of reverberation and the choral voices of electric diva Malonda and Pola Lia Schulten, is great cinema. It actually sounds like Ton Steine ​​Scherben got tips from Phil Spector.

At the end of all celebrations, however, a private separation follows the revolution. This end and the relationship before it is sketched with a flourish, as if Friebe had been drawn by Mascha Kaléko: “We told each other everything. Only in the end I didn’t want to know everything. I think you noticed that and bit me goodbye.”

Then Friebe raves wonderfully, singing scales up and down and playing the piano like a hysterically laughing harpsichord. Colorful decadence is in the air. Pride and hurt try to use their weight to push their respective scales onto the floor.

There is a lot going on musically and lyrically on “Wir sind schön”. This has led to a text about a Berlin singer in which famous names are perhaps spread too carelessly. But that’s up to Jens Friebe. Because “Wir sind schön” is his best album to date.



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