Image of Unhappybirthday - Mondchateau

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Arriving at their fourth album with only eight candles on the cake, unhappybirthday have always tempered youthful energy with an impressive maturity, but this is the moment when they truly come of age. Armed with deeper grooves, tighter arrangements and unconventional hooks, the German trio have found the perfect balance between song and sound on their most irresistible work to date.

The briefest trip through their back catalogue unearths a wealth of artefacts from an unremembered 80s, be it the cassette tape fuzz which saturated early releases or the genuine love of the decade’s underground outcasts. Recall a distant teenage memory of hours lost in an older, cooler friend’s record collection; a blur of bedsit anarchists, jangling romantics and monochrome poets alive in polyphony. The result is a mirage of Post-punk and Postcard, Penthouse and Pavement, inspired by the past but but impossible to pigeonhole. Ever referential but never reverential, unhappybirthday have that rare ability to distill their influences into an innovative expression far more potent than the sum of its parts.

For mondchateau, their second LP on the mighty Tapete Records, unhappybirthday swap Cocteau cool for cocktails by the pool, fusing their sophisticated pop with the louche grooves and ambient beauty of Deutsche Balearic.

Taking a stroll through Miko’s garden, the trio find Sade under the Kalimba Tree, enjoy an I.C. spritz and savour the tristeza of the late afternoon sun. Punctuated by rhythm box exotica and Diana Kim’s limber bass, the nine songs lilt and sway from T.V. Scene to Same Old Scene, the beguiling combination of optimism and melancholy yielding a yearning beauty. Equal parts brooding and ringing, Tobias Rutkowski’s guitar is the embodiment of this tension, while the digital keys, glassy mallets and moonlit chimes of Daniel Jahn’s SQ1 provide a shimmering home for his seductive croon and husky introspection.

Their ongoing collaboration with Berlin producer Jonas Meyer continues to lend a maturity and clarity to the unhappybirthday sound, while guest vocals from the likes of indie pop icon Andreas Dorau and label-mate Sebastian Lee Phillip (Die Wilde Jagd) add nuance and texture to their sonic palette.

A resort collection for SS20, mondchateau offers horizontal dancers, beachfront dreamers and tidal drift; an aspirational statement undercut by the inescapable feeling that the summer ends only too soon.


Patrick says: Hey you! That's right, you with the LNCC subscription - you can put the acoustic guitar down, the Balearic record of 2020 is already here, and it hails from Hamburg. The latest evolution of the Unhappybirthday sound sees the German group in sophisti-pop mode, serving nine swooning, crooning beauties dripping in resort cool. You'll find hints of Blue Nile, Flash & The Pan, Linda Di Franco and Talk Talk in here, but the strength of songwriting and melodic purity ensure 'Mondchateau' stands on its own.


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