A woman inked in black and white holding her hand in front of her open mouth in surprise. Below, in thick red letters, it says ABAY and really tiny some more letters that form the album title. Everything is amazing and nobody is happy – it’s the zeitgeist talking and a fitting title to what is the debut album by one of German indie rocks busiest people. Blackmail were an institution in the German indie rock scene. The tight production by guitarist Kurt Ebelhäuser met lead singer Aydo Abay’s distinct voice. A voice filled with depth, melancholy and warmth. It has been six years since Abay left the group and Blackmail haven’t been the same since. He spent the time in different bands and projects but something was missing. It turns out, he was just missing the right partner in crime.
Abay is the lucky result of a night boozing in Berlin. Even funnier is the fact that the missing ingredient was Jonas Pfetzing, whose main job is playing guitar for the German pop outfit Juli. But don’t you worry, Everything is… is not a radio friendly pop record. It is a chunky piece of rock. Its ten songs are full of heavy guitars, mid-tempo ballads and songs that build up and collapse within minutes. All while Abay garnishes them with his trademark voice. There is a lot of sadness in these songs, at least they can feel that way. But they make it very hard for the listener not to feel anything.
The piano driven opener The Queen Is Dead for example sets the tone perfectly. It is build around a simple melody, ebbs and flows, shows the wild and the quiet side. It captures the beauty of this record all while leaving a sour taste behind. Just when you think the song builds up one last time, it ends abruptly. Second single 1997 (Exit A) gets you hooked instantly. It would make for the perfect summer song were it not for Abay crooning …And I’m losing it all again over and over in the chorus. The eight and a half minute long title track makes way for the heaviest guitar walls on the record in over five minute long outro that goes from acoustic guitars to a wall of feedback with a flute melody on top of it. There are so many facets and examples on this record that perfectly sum up its title or translate it into music. Rarely was a title as perfectly chosen for a record as in this case. Pfetzing and Abay have written and recorded one of the best alternative albums of the year. Period.
Everything is Amazing and Nobody is Happy by Abay is out now via Unter Schaafen Records.
You can pick up your copy here.
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