The law of diminishing returns is a cruel governess, able to reduce even the most promising starts and mid-points to dust. How does it relate to the latest album by Letzte Instanz, you ask? Everything.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: I am not a Letzte Instanz fan. I had a passing familiarity with the existence of the band, so this is my introduction to them, which pretty much ensures that I will not be getting more familiar with their body of work anytime soon. For all intents and purposes, Letzte Instanz play pop-flavored rock with all the expected veneer, more frills than you can make three entire gothic lolita outfits out of, and, for some reason, violin and cello accompaniment. All this comes in the form of limp-wristed riffs, very basic song structures, and an almost complete lack of originality and an utterly forgettable album.
The problems start with the overall sound. There is something to be said about an album that nowadays retains an at least somewhat raw bite, but fret not, that is so not the case with Morgenland. On the contrary, Letzte Instanz exist on the far fringes of the opposite. The polished to footman-in-Downton-Abbey levels of perfection, so much so that it sounds like a mirror you can eat off of. To be clear, this isn’t a good thing because this much of a shinejob robs the album of bite and punch. Further confounding the problem is the violins and cellos that do not add a layer, but manage to add to the superficiality of it all. All this is tied together by one of the most underwhelming vocal performances of recent memory, adding nothing whatsoever to songs and even pulling some down from the heights they aspire to. This is especially glaring in songs like Du Lebst or Glücksriter that are meant to be uplifting but never achieve takeoff.
What’s more is that Morgenland is an album that you’ve heard before. It’s like the whole album is renditions of not specific songs but specific ways of writing songs. For instance, Glücksritter and Wellreiter are both power ballads that you are sick of hearing. Noch Einmal has the acoustic guitar strumming out the same chords you have heard on every poppy rock song that features an acoustic guitar backing. Symphonie is a pop song, nothing more to it than that. Schwarz and Du Lebst are near-interchangeable and play out like second-tier Eurovision songs with a rock twist. In fact, the only song that manages to stick out from the rest, that adds a bit of excitement to the experience is Asche Zu Gold. Never mind that you have to go through 7 tracks before getting to that, the song itself is just your run-of-the-mill Deutsche Neue Hærte song with a chorus flatter than a pancake.
Also, if you’re going to name a song Disco D’amour, I would rather you have either the disco, or the d’amour, or both. Failing to provide any just makes me wonder if the song couldn’t be called something else (or, you know, be a better song.)
The thing is, though, Morgenland is consistently hollow, passionless and limp-wristed, start to finish. Apart from the hopeful opening of Asche zu Gold, nothing breaks the sheer amount of dull moments strung together, song after song. This is exemplified perfectly in the opener title track Morgenland that showcases every shortcoming of the album (which can serve as an early warning system,) and the closer Für Immer Sein, which fails to achieve any sort of resolution. To add insult to injury, Für Immer Sein is the worst song on the album, which is really saying something, and it feels as if it was chosen deliberately to make you feel glad it’s over.
At the end of the I don’t know whether this is a misstep for Letzte Instanz or a typical album for them, but if it’s the former, then I see no reason to further familiarize myself with their work. Morgenland would be entertaining, at least in how bad it is, if it wasn’t so sad. There is nothing noteworthy about the album apart from how utterly forgettable it is. Better luck next time, guys.
Holly Loose – vocals
Benni Cellini – cello
M.Stolz – violin
Bernie Geef – guitar
Michael Ende – bass
Andy Horst – drums
03. Disco D’amour
04. Mein Land
07. Noch Einmal
08. Asche Zu Gold
11. Für Immer Sein