ALBUM STRANGE WAYS RELEASE:
APRIL 7, 2003 REVIEW: APRIL 15, 2003
it is the voice of Peter Heppner that has gained Wolfsheim the large fan
base they have acquired throughout the years. They have always been unwilling
to compromise their vision, as their discography clearly shows, and Heppner's
vocals add an extra dimension to an already unique electronic pop sound.
I have not always been a slave to what Wolfsheim has found appropriate
to release, but I have watched their development with amazement. Like
everyone else, I got hooked hearing "The Sparrows and the Nightingales"
in their early days, and from there there was really no turning back.
Starting out with a collection of theirs, "55578 - 1987-1995",
I soon realized that, while I enjoyed many of their songs, Wolfsheim was
a band to take in by two-to-three song-rounds a a time, and when "Dreaming
Apes" (an album I still refuse to buy, by the way) came out I put
them on my "may check them out sometime in the future if I have time
and cash"-list. Randomly getting "Spectators" for review
saved me. Rarely, if ever, have I become so overwhelmingly surprised in
a positive way. This album also proved to be what sparked the band's pending
When time came for a new release this year, after the usual hefty delays,
people were overly anxious to hear it. The first single "Kein Zurück",
in all its mellow synthpop perfection, managed to surpass most of the
material on "Spectators" and I immediately tried to convince
myself not to run away in my wild speculations of the greatness of the
upcoming full length. The album, "Casting Shadows", follows
that impressive path, but still leaves a question mark or two to be answered.
It should be noted that my basis for this review is the promo version
of the album (nine out of eleven songs are included in cut versions) and
that it possibly could have been awarded a six or an eight, depending
on those two remaining tracks. As the case is now, there are some extremely
strong efforts on "Casting Shadows", like the bubbling fast
paced "Approaching Lightspeed", which in part is quite reminiscent
of "Once in a Lifetime" and the gorgeous sadness that is "And
I...". What bugs me, and probably will bug a fan or two, is that
the majority of the songs are plagued by small, but nevertheless present,
anonymity problems. Some of it may hail from the fact that Heppner needs
to vary his vocal style more, at least when the choruses start. The music
is beautiful through and through, though, so hats off for that.
"Casting Shadows", while not as strong as "Spectators",
will no doubt put many synthpop hungry souls to rest, showing again that
what Wolfsheim are as needed as they are unique in the electropop genre.