Album Review: And One – Achtung 80/Magnet/Propeller

And One have always been a productive and creative band, the founders of a unique sound and a pillar of the modern EBM scene. And in 2014, as if to confirm this status and potentially thumb their noses at the rumours of a split (a little while ago already), it’s not only one, but 3 albums that the band have decided to release. Well, last time I’ve seen similar thing, it was Therion releasing Lemuria/Sirius B in 2004.

So three albums, ok, but what’s really in there? Is it three times the same album, 30 times the same song, is it really worth the fuss, are we talking about actual music or marketing campaign?

Well, not only there is quite some content, but also, it’s far from being 30 times the same song.
It all start with Achtung 80. Achtung 80, or never have And One sounded so 80’s. Long story short, it’s just like Yazoo and early Depeche Mode all over again. And to make everything taste better, Steve Naghavi plays the game of the sexy, slightly obscene lyrics and vocals, overusing his cheeky sex appeal (“Girls on Girls”).
The same old recipe definitely still works, this unique blend of cheesy and cruel creating the “And One” specific antagonistic atmosphere; yet it’s like the cheesy part slightly takes over the cruel on Achtung 80, with songs sounding more like “Traumfrau” and “So Klingt Liebe” than “Deutschmachine” or “Electrocution” (“My Angel”, “Somebody’s Song”, the intro on “Why Don’t You Let Me Go”).

But then Magnet starts. Magnet rings the tempo change. It’s still about love, still somewhat cute and a bit cheesy, yet the cruelty slowly grows and gets back on track. Song after song, the bitterness kicks in, and that familiar feeling of acid resentment emerges. From the first seconds of “Love needs a saving hands”, the album’s first song, it’s incredibly sweaty and sexy, like a night ride through cars and clubs, like dancefloor romances. It’s romantic, melancholic, stingy and painful all at once. It feels wrong, yet so right, cruel but comfortable; we will probably just let go and sob a bit later on.

And as Magnet makes room for Propeller, we know we are there at last. Propeller is everything fantastic in And One’s music. Mesmerizing, electrifying melodies, dark, low voices (the kind of unhealthy low, the kind that gives fever to the fangirls), sexy vocals, sexy beats, extraordinarily odd lyrics, and the overall cruel, stingy, merciless atmosphere of uncompromised German EBM. Every single song is a massive synthetic punch in the stomach, from the very first one “Black Generation”, that resonates like a club hit already, to the closer “New Wave Mother” (talk about a fantastic song title). It’s electric, exciting, melodic and hard, and still you will be taken by surprise by softly arranged melodic parts, halfway pop, yet bitter and melancholic “Before I Go”, “U-boot Krieg in OST Berlin”

So here we are, with this 3 opus in 1, holding an amazingly consistent and solid content, enough to make you dance and cry at the same time, on your own or on an obscure dancefloor, for an hopefully endless night. And One has achieved on this extended album format a sort of virtual journey through the city’s nightlife, an idealised vision of the club life.
In a way, this 30-song long trip sounds like a fascination for the bizarre, like a very long club night where we would have the time to observe and meet all those night freaks and alternative strangers, in their world, on their territory. For a dance or for a night. May you enjoy this night.

Review by Marie Lando