KRAMERS are a five-piece band from Italy. The title of their debut album looks to be German to me, and they sing in English. I’m confused!
My first reaction on listening to the ten tracks on this their debut album, was here is a band not quite sure of where it’s going and even then, less sure of how they will get there. The message from the mix of song styles and delivery was as mixed and clouded as I expressed above.
However, after speaking with the band’s Press people, I now understand that this album was created over a period of a couple of years, during which time KRAMERS experienced several changes to their line-up. It would seem that this then has impacted on the band’s preferred sound as they move from a more art-pop orientation to a darker, electro based dance style.
Which is better? And would it have been better to release their debut album showcasing the style they intend progressing? Hmmmmm – an interesting dilemma indeed.
‘Warum Warum Ist Die Banane Krumm?’ is certainly an album of light and dark. The earlier tracks are pretty quirky and interesting. The female vocals on the opening track ‘The Day I Walked Down The Street,’ seem almost classical in their delivery. Gulia’s voice is high pitched and yet still mellow sounding and though comparisons have been made to Goldfrapp, I liken her style to that of Bec Woods (Newman) of the now defunct, but still brilliant sounding Hot Puppies. The track picks up about half way through and the chorus is truly catchy, though there’s not many around who will be able to hum along in a manner that will truly compliment Gulia.
Actually, having mentioned The Hot Puppies, ‘The Girl Who Came From Nowhere,’ sounds very much like one of their songs – both in terms of the rushing beat, the vocal delivery and even the song title itself. ‘Another Pop Song You Can Dance With Your Friends’ is I assume another of the band’s earlier tracks. It also has that quirky but danceable pop feel to it, as does ‘My Speed Love.’ However the latter is more along the lines of an early You Say Party song- still dance based, but with punky elements and yelped dual vocals firing in all directions. It sounds to me like this song heralds a move in a slightly different direction for KRAMERS.
‘Hamburger vs Kebab,’ I think must be one of the newer songs – it is the current single for starters. There is more of a ‘current’ feel about it – the vocals half sung / half rapped, with the chorus taking on an angrier edge. The swirling synths are joined by a flute (an interesting but effective combination) and shows the band has a bit of a darker side.
‘She’s So Flute,’ continues in this vein, with the initially sweet, high-pitched vocals becoming progressively more manic sounding over the top of an even more menacing backing. ‘Dharmabeat’ has some lovely vocal work in the chorus, framed again by a more electro based backing. It’s quite understated in its own way, and again with shades of You Say Party at times.
‘La Dance,’ runs to over five minutes, as does the album closer ‘It’s Time To Close Your Eyes’ – the extended track duration another indication of the band’s change in musical direction throughout the album.
Overall impression? It’s still a difficult proposition for me: I would have thought this album would have been better received had KRAMERS concentrated on either their older or their more recent material. As it is, I get the impression of a bit of a mish-mash effort.
Much as I like the darker elements of the newer stuff, I do feel that there’s a lot of this electro-dance around, and it could become lost in a very competitive market. It’s nice and pleasant, but not much here to set it apart from other bands.
No – for me there is more mileage in what I presume is the older style, the more quirky and ‘arty’ sound that presents the listener with the interesting juxtaposition of Gulia’s classical sounding voice together with a light and fresh, innovative but totally danceable and poppy backing.
(That’ll probably set the cat amongst the pigeons!)
(Released through The Prisoner Records on 12th March 2012)