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KLEE (Buy CDs by this artist)
Unverwundbar (Ger. Modernsoul) 2003
Jelängerjelieber (Ger. Modernsoul) 2004

If Ferris Bueller had taken his day off in Berlin instead of Chicago, the music on his car stereo would've sounded a lot like Klee. The Cologne trio offers a perfect soundtrack for German-language versions of John Hughes' '80s teenage films. The band is heavily indebted to the danceable rock of the 1985-'87 configurations of the Cure, New Order, Pet Shop Boys, the Psychedelic Furs and Depeche Mode, with an occasional touch of Echo and the Bunnymen and Smiths sprinkled in. It would be a shame if the fact that Suzie Kerstgens sings her lyrics in German prevents Klee from finding a worldwide audience, as their irresistible pop should be universally appealing.

New Order and the Pet Shop Boys are the most obvious templates for the synthesizer heavy Unverwundbar. Like the Mancunians, Klee manage to stay firmly in the dance-rock camp rather than synth-pop: the title cut and the beautiful "Ein Tag Für Immer" ("one day for ever") match propulsive dance beats with orchestral synths, while "Heut Nacht" and "Standard Kompakt" lean more towards minimalist electronic rock. "Nicht Immer Aber Jetzt" ("not always but now") is one of the few songs on the album to find use for guitars, although "Wenn Es So Wäre" brings some acoustic strumming into the mix. Kerstgens' vocals are lovely throughout, and there is not a bad or boring song to be found here.

Jelängerjelieber (Honeysuckle) is every bit as good. The instrumentation is a little more organic (more guitars and piano) and not as reliant on synthesizers. The single "2 Fragen" puts Klee in touch with their German musical roots, welding their dance-pop to a motorik beat to sound like St. Etienne crossed with NEU!. Fandom comes close to getting the best of them when "Gold" gently nicks the bass line of "Blue Monday" and "Unser Film" pretty much shoplifts "Just Like Heaven" in its entirety. "Keine Zehn Pferde" is the hardest rock Klee has recorded, complete with a descending guitar riff that sort of echoes "Holidays in the Sun" (which, of course, the Sex Pistols lifted from the Jam's "In the City" in the first place). The guitar line of "Mit Dir" lives somewhere between the homes of Johnny Marr and Peter Buck. "Mein Zimmer," the acoustic closer, includes a shout-out to "Nick Drake und Billy Bragg." An excellent album from a charming, exciting band.

[Brad Reno]