CHRIS DE BIEL & DIE LĖRCHEN - Chris de Biel & die Lėrchen

Chris de Biel & die Lėrchen - Chris de Biel & die Lėrchen

9 songs
29:40 minutes
***** ***


Every kind of music has its merits, when done properly. This even counts for German schlager music. Not the overproduced, synthetic and above all unauthentic crap that you see and hear on German TV stations. But once in a while you come across an artist who has such a passion for the craft that you can only admire his tenacity to play a kind of music which often is frowned upon.

Chris de Biel is a German singer and guitarist who just turned fifty this year, and his eponymous debut with his backing band Die Lėrchen is the first time I have come across his music. His musicians actually have kind of a punk rock background, with guitarist Enno Palucca being known from Die Goldenen Zitronen and drummer Tobi Helmlinger who used to play bass with The Robocop Kraus. Bass player Stefan Meißlein has a soul and reggae background, and the incredibly talented organist Walter Whatner comes with an alias because contractual obligations don’t allow him to reveal his actual name.

The album is only a short half hour long, and while this may seem disappointing at first, it also allows Chris and the band to concentrate their energies where it counts. The nine songs featured here are all very good, some even great. The opener Du kannst mir nicht imponieren, außer wenn Du endlich Deinen Arsch bewegst has a rather long title and surprises with witty lyrics and a cool chorus. The following Busenwunder continues in that humorous vein, but the third track, Es war ein kurzes Wiedersehen, shows that these guys are not merely a comedy act. This melancholic song is another side that will recur throughout the album and works somehow just as well as the funny bits. Gold gefunden is not that humorous but convinces with its punchy performance. Nie genug is a cheesy ballad that strangely enough is still rather charming. A bissl stirbt sichs jeden Tag is another highlight, sounding rather Austrian and possibly also the album’s darkest and most melancholic moment. Hund und Baum is a funk infused number, and Marlene once again portrays the artist’s mastery of songs about lost love. The album ends with the danceable Sie hat Spaß.

The German language sometimes has words that no other language can match. Like Chris de Biel & die Lėrchen who are described by their record label as a "Herrentanzkapelle", which in English might be vaguely translated as a gentlemen’s dance orchestra. And that’s the feeling I got listening to these songs: like these amateurish bands playing their shaky songs in rural villages in front of weird villagers. I don’t think of this here as a parody, but rather as a tribute to a musical subculture that will always be associated with uncoolness. And the band’s professional and heartfelt attitude is what transforms this album eventually into something enormously cool.

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