Reviewer's note: the final score for this album is twofold, one for the North American release and one for the original European release. The two are titled to show which is which.
Joachim Witt in many ways embodies the comeback in rock music. He was he lead singer and guitarist of a popular band in the 1970s, and he became a successful Neue Deutsche Welle solo artist in the 1980s before he kind of disappeared from the public radar. Until the late 1990s, when he released the single Die Flut with Peter Heppner of Wolfheim. Since then, he’s become more and more popular with every passing release, and his most recent release, Bayreuth III, is both his most successful and heaviest album to date. Between the start and end of his Bayreuth trilogy, however, he released two other albums, Eisenherz and Pop. Pop is his second most recent release, and it really showcases all of his best elements.
Pop is very different from Bayreuth III, however, and those who were expecting the heavy guitar oriented sound of that release may be disappointed. For those who have listened to more of his catalogue, and who realise that until very recently he was not a heavy metal artist, Pop is a real gem. I see it in many ways as a combination of the various sounds from the three Bayreuth albums, taking the best qualities of each and combining them into something rather unique.
First, Pop is definitely a club friendly album. There is a greater weight put onto the electronics on this album, which is reminiscent of Bayreuth I. See, especially, the remix of Erst wenn das herz nicht mehr aus Stein ist, included as a bonus track on the American release. Second, there is definitely a great amount of pop and light rock sensibility included, which I feel is borrowed from Bayreuth II. Many tracks are rather light, and definitely rely more on the quality of the music than blaring guitars to make their point. Finally, the guitars from Bayreuth III are present, which also helps to foreshadow the sound of Bayreuth III (this album was released in North America in the same year as Bayreuth III, but was originally released two years earlier, in 2004) The best examples of these guitars is undoubtedly Zeit zu Gehen, the other bonus track on the American release, which, as a side note, is recommended above the German release. The bulk of the CD is very good, but Zeit zu Gehen and the remix are among the best tracks on the album, and really add to it.
In conclusion, I have been gradually warming more and more to Joachim Witt as I listen to him, and Pop has firmly secured him among my favourite musicians. Pop is highly recommended to fans of both his earlier work and later work, but those who come expecting something like Bayreuth III might be a bit disappointed.
Score: [North American release] / [European release]
Reviewer: Paul Gifford
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