Two years ago, when reviewing When Skipjack Tripped’s previous album Is This World Still Mine?, I prophesied that their next work would only be released in 2010 at the very earliest. Somehow, this German collective must have been in a hurry this time, as it took them only two years to accomplish their sixth release.
Led by songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Zattl, who is also a member of Supergroup, and joined by his band mates Peter Hilpert (bass) and Jay Montone (drums, e-piano), the weirdly named band is helped out by a who-is-who of German underground: Goldenen Zitronen drummer Enno Palucca, Throw That Beat drummer Alexander Sticht and vocalist Lotsi, Missouri guitarist Frank Mollena and many more.
If I was only vaguely if positively intrigued by their last album, then Headphone Home finally manages to convince me totally. It’s not as if Zattl is the most accomplished composer, but what he lacks in catchiness is made up with a fervour and fire that I have rarely encountered in a European band. Strongly influenced by American rock music of the Sixties (Byrds) and Seventies (Big Star), WST always stay below the pop radar and offer thirteen gems that come as unpolished as possible. It is only rock music after all, but they present it with such a naked sincerity that at times my mouth just stays open.
Strangely enough the CD starts with three quite short songs that range from distorted noise rockers to melancholic ballads, beforePony Tail reminds me of Steely Dan, thanks to the warm electric piano. The following six minute long Will Your Love Remain is a freewheeling rocker that takes its energy from its hypnotic beat that could have come from an early Spiritualized release. Another longer excursion comes with Maybe In 100 Years, a song that the Byrds wouldn’t have made better.
Headphone Home comes with a stylishly modern cover, but the music has a definitive retro touch that sounds more sincere than all those hyped British and American upstarts who prefix their band name with “The”. Zattl looks as if he really grew up with that music, and he manages to transform his passion into pure art. He covers everything from melancholic ballads to noisy rockers, all of this during fifty minutes where you never know what the next song will bring. As far as I am concerned, this is his best effort yet!