Record Review: Pascow - Jade

When you start listening to the new Pascow record, you might think you tuned in to classical radiostation. But not for long - the guitar riff in "Silberblick & Scherenhände" wipes away the dramatic piano and you're in for a ride. The four musicians from the small town of Gimbweiler in Rheinland-Pfalz only need 31 minutes to prove once again that they are the best Punkrock band in Germany. There may be bands that are more on the spot by playing a lot of festival shows like the Donots and there are certainly more successful bands like Die Toten Hosen (who are not Punkrock anymore in the opinion of some people). But Pascow have a style that is so distinctive, an energy that is just feral and lyrics that are just remarkable - and that sets them apart and makes them my favorite punkrock band from Germany.

Let's talk about the lyrics for a second. When I first listened to their record "Alles muss kaputt sein" in 2010 (really? that long ago?), I didn't really understand what a song like "Äthiopien die Bombe" means. With "Diene der Party" the lyrics became more specific and you could figure out very easily what the songs were about. Now "Jade", the sixth full length studio album, means the end of "cryptic shit", as the band put it ahead of the release. But that doesn't mean that it's all bold and simple slogans now. Alex Pascow knows how to write lyrics that are meaningful yet unpretentious.

The topics are sometimes personal and deal with broken relationships ("Marie" and Schmutzigrot" the latter one with guest singer Wick van Houdt from Bambix), but there are also political stances. With Germany still being polarized by asylum policy, Pascow sing about a scenario in which the hardliners of today would be scared if they were refugees one day ("Heute Jäger, Morgen Taucher (Erwachen II")).

Musically, Jade sounds as unique as Pascow truly are, but they tried something new this time with lots of female guest vocals by Frau Wolf, Nadine Nevermore and the aforementioned Wick van Houdt (I won't spoil anything, so just listen to it and you will know which songs). The title track with its rough guitars seems like a new band anthem and has a nice twist at 2:15. In the lyrics, Pascow speak about shying away from dogmas and mediocrity - and that's what they have done for years. "Marie" uses an off-beat, and "Wunderkind" may be the most daring musical experiment that the band has ever recorded. Some say it sounds like "Glycerine" by Bush, but it still appears like leaving the comfort zone. You can imagine the song being the moment during a concert where you can take a breath after dancing in the pit. "Unter Geiern" sounds familiar with its discoesque drumbeat, but before you can say "Diene der Party" you feel reminded of Faith No More's "Be Aggressive", with Alex shouting exactly that. Kurt Ebelhäuser, who's best known for his style-defining Indierock-band Blackmail, does an excellent job as a producer. The sound is heavy but transparent.

Oh and I'll say something about the cover artwork: There are two covers with the portrait of a young woman (is it even the same woman?), one with here face painted in Black Metal corpsepaint style (and darker hair). It reminds you of the movie "Metalhead" immediately, the Icelandic drama about a young woman coping with the death of her brother by adopting his musical taste. As a photographer myself, I'm amazed by the intensity of the pictures. I always love when you can see that the eyes in a portrait are tack sharp. Just a detail, but I like details because they show that someone has given things a lot of thought.

That being said, Jade is the first Punkrock highlight of 2019. Now go see 'em live!

"Jade" is released via Rookie Records today, January 25th. More information: http://pascow.org/
Here you can see the video for "Silberblick & Scherenhände":