The first track from this Bavarian band’s sixth album is the kind of pop quackery that makes trainspotters perk up. The ping-ponging cello pizzicato of " One Step Inside Doesn’t Mean You Understand " recalls the Maxwell House TV jingle of the 1960s. Then the song piles on oboe, strings, piano, and subtle samples with simmering, sad-sack songcraft.
The remainder of Neon Golden offers similar mood music for rattled modern minds. Like Radiohead, the Notwist once worked with traditional vocals, guitars, and drums, only to expand their palette with the sampled scribbles of European electronic music. But because they’re German, with a long history of inherited electronic music, or perhaps because vocalist Markus Acher is nowhere as demonstrative as Thom Yorke, they’ve submerged themselves where Radiohead simply dipped their toes. Neon Golden is a clever collusion of pop-song structure and electronic-organic studio effects. The band never shout when a coo will do, and the songs are marvels of intricacy and catchy choruses. Comforting sounds morph and slide, beats bump and collide, and vocals spin silliness like " Pick up the phone and answer me today. "