Sustainable Pace

August 16th, 2020

Tocotronic - Digital ist besser (1995)

I was a little late to learn about Tocotronic, I first listened to them in late 1996. But listening is not the first lasting impression I got from Tocotronic - I remember browsing through the vinyl at my preferred record store in Köln, Normal, and stumbling onto three guys with weird heirdos and song titles that made them look like a german equivalent of The Smiths. I had to buy it!

The opener, Freiburg, a song about anger and alienation, hooked me instantly - I had started studying a few months before, and was already disappointed by the state of student culture: I could whole-heartedly share the antagonism, for example the sentiments against Backgammon players. The sound was gritty and raw, and while it felt pleasantly amateurish, it was energizing and authentic.

My favourite track is "Die Idee ist gut doch die Welt noch nicht bereit", with its heart-breaking lyrics, its great dynamic range, and the overall hymnic character. I think this is the great strength of Tocotronic's songs in general, they are appealing, funny and memorable, yet wonderfully idiosyncratic and even a little mysterious and dark.

Other favourites are the humorously disillusioning "Wir sind hier nicht in Seattle, Dirk", the powerful "Wie wir beide nebeneinander auf dem Teppichboden sitzen", the rebelliously downbeat "Samstag ist Selbstmord", or the melancholic "Letztes Jahr im Sommer". And then there is "Drüben auf dem Hügel" and "Hamburg rockt", there are so many great songs on this record!

Unfortunately I never saw Tocotronic live. I had tickets to two of their concerts in Koblenz and Cologne in the late nineties, and missed both occasions, one because I was hospitalized due to seizures. But anyway, this record just keeps getting better and better, and after 25 years, it's definitely one of the few gems of german pop music in my lifetime!

P.S. Gitarrenhändler ihr seid Doofmänner!