Milky Chance is one of those acts that appears to come out of nowhere, but immediately makes its presence known. Similar to Gotye, their single “Stolen Dance” just emerges from thin air, and then you hear it everywhere. Recently, I heard it in a cab and at my favorite ramen spot on the same day. Although it is a major accomplishment to have a breakthrough single, more impressive is how many great songs appear on their debut album Sadneccesary.
Hailing from Kassel, Germany duo Clemens Rehbein and Philipp Dausch met in the 11th grade and started creating music as Milky Chance in 2012. They must have clicked immediately because the two mix genres such as folk, reggae, spanish guitar and electronic together with a maturity and skill where many, many others try and fall flat.
I have been listening to their EP Stolen Dance for several months now and while it was incredible, I worried that Sadneccesary would be mostly filler tracks around the four I already knew. Luckily, the the new album comes out swinging right away with “Stunner,” a bright track with a heavy bass line and rolling percussion. Each individual component of the song is simple, but they layer the instruments into a rich whole, letting Clemens’ vocals keep your mind guessing with changes in cadence and emphasis.
In the next track, “Flashed Junk Mind,” we see a bit more of the reggae and folk influence. The rhythm comes at you in a choppy staccato, accented by distorted guitar for a familiar late-90s dub rock influence. But at the same time, we get vocal harmonies that invoke indie folk-rock. I am taken back to early tracks by The Shins with haunting, almost melancholy vocal harmonies. This becomes a theme throughout the album, especially in the next couple songs, “Becoming” and “Running.”
One of the things I am loving about this album is how it draws on the folk traditions of Europe. It makes sense, they are a German act, but here in the U.S. while we are inundated with Americana-inspired music, I can only really point to Gogol Bordello as an act bringing the European flavor of gypsy/rock/folk. “Indigo” is a short track that exemplifies this aspect of their music; spanish guitar drives a song that sounds like what The Gypsy Kings might play if they were stoned on a tropical beach. Another example is one of my favorite tracks, “Down by the River,” with a Spanish, rolling guitar line that makes me want to get up and move.
The album closes with some of their more familiar tracks from the Stolen Dance EP. The title track, “Stolen Dance,” is itself a plain and simple hit, bands like Imagine Dragons are already covering it. From the toe-tapping rhythm of the guitar, to catchy lyrics that sound like a deep whisper, the song just comes together perfectly. It’s this smooth, rich sound also on tracks like “Fairytale” that take Sadneccesary from a good album to a great album.
I could go through every track point by point but at some point you just need to listen for yourself and see why these young German lads are getting so much buzz recently. Or better yet maybe you can still catch them Thursday October 23rd as they stop at Rickshaw Stop.
Photo by James Kendall