Klee started with an electro sound on 2003's "Unverwundbar." After it came guitar pop and even some experiments with strings. Now the band has taken its inspiration from the concept album tradition of the 60s and 70s.
Singer Suzie Kerstgens is nostalgic for the albums of the 60s and 70s
Suzie Kerstgens has never shied away from singing openly about feelings, combining her love songs with a bit of age-won wisdom. The leader singer of the band Klee heads back in time for their latest release, out as of August 26, drawing her inspiration from the days when albums were conceived of as organic wholes. The instruments and amps used in recording are even originals from the 1960s.
"As the whole thing started to take form, we thought, well, we don't want to go chasing after some hype or try to drum it up," Kerstgens said. "The coolness factor that's so important to so many people - we wanted to leave that far behind."
Hits - who cares?
The consequence is that Klee isn't out to hit it big with a single this time around. Instead of just packing a collection of disjointed tracks on the CD, the band has put together a cohesive album. It's complete with an opening, middle section and, yes, even an end, although that format has fallen a bit out of fashion, as Kerstgens laments.
"I find it sad that so many things today are just thrown out there because everyone assumes people will only download the songs they like the best," she said, adding that she likes when the songs on an album connect with one another.
"We set the goal of creating that kind of album character," she said.
Looking toward Paris
"Aus lauter Liebe" is the album title and could be translated as "Out of nothing but love." It marks the most mature effort to date by the band, which has now shrunk from a trio to a duo. The sepia-colored cover artwork points the way of the album, toward France. The photos in the CD booklet were taken in Paris.
That's not just because the city on the Seine is famously the city of love. Suzie Kerstgens and Sten Servaes have long been interested in French history - artistically and otherwise.
"We love to be in Paris. Paris and Cologne aren't that far away - it's closer than Berlin, for instance," Suzie noted.
Waifish but all grown up: Suzie Kerstgens of Klee turns 40 this year, as does lyricist Sten Servaes
When it comes to love…
The pair spent half of a year working in a studio in Bochum with the popular German producer Olaf Opal, who makes sure that Suzie's voice sounds more velvety than ever on this release - more present and intimate.
The tracks might make the listener think of a blonde French film actress, sprawled out on a piano in a smoky bar. The mood is heavy, with a touch of nostalgia.
Even if many German bands seem to have a problem singing about love, there's no question that the four letter word is at the core of this album - after all, songs about love have for so long been the fare of schmaltzy Schlager music. Though Suzie Kerstgens and Sten Servaes do manage to avoid singing "Ich liebe dich" - "I love you" - each song seems to bring that sentiment to bear nonetheless.
Sten writes the lyrics and knows how tricky it can be to put love into words.
"It gets so banal that you almost don't want to try and express it," he explained, adding, "But we did it in the end because we think that love is simply the most important driving force in all of life."
For Sten, singing about that certain feeling doesn't have to be cliche - in fact, he thinks it's important not to leave the topic to songwriters who make nothing but cliches out of love.
The wisdom of 40
Though once a trio with supporting musicians, Klee is now a duo on their latest release
It's no accident that the album is coming out in the same year as Suzie Kerstgens turns 40, an age that perhaps lets a person see the world and the path they've taken through it a little more clearly. Band colleague Sten is the same age as Suzie and has made peace with getting older.
"It's not always a curse," he said. "It can also be a blessing - that your horizon expands. You're a step higher up on the ladder and can see a bit farther."
Those new perspectives find their way onto "Aus lauter Liebe," resulting in a work that reflects the band members' growing sense of equanimity.
Author: Andreas Zimmer / gsw
Editor: Rick Fulker