EP Review

The Deadnotes – Forever Outsider: EP Review

Freiburg’s pop/punk duo, The Deadnotes set their sights on the UK with their Britpop-influenced EP, Forever Outsider.

Release Date:  26th May 2023

Label: 22Lives Records

Formats: Vinyl

The Deadnotes are a band with purpose.  More than a single purpose, if we’re being honest, and they intend to use their new EP, Forever Outsider, to further their causes accordingly.  First off, they’re using the EP to shake off any genre labels that may have become attached during their busy work schedule and, secondly, they’re using the Britpop-influenced tunes on this new collection, to set their sights on a whole new set of followers here in the UK.

The Deadnotes are a pop/punk (whoops – that’s me genre-labelling already…) duo from Freiburg, Germany.  Jakob Walheim (bass and guitar) and Darius Lohmüller (guitar and vocals) came together back in 2011 and, aided by drumming buddy Yannic Arens, they’ve since played over 500 shows all over Europe and have released a whole string of singles, EPs and full-length albums, most recently their Deer In The Headlights 2021 single.

The Deadnotes; Left -Jakob Walheim, Right – Darius Lohmüller

With Forever Outsider, the chaps have decided upon a slight switch in direction.  The musical influences here are overwhelmingly British – and it’s not just the Britpop that hits the listener squarely between the teeth as soon as the needle hits the grooves; listen closely and you’ll detect influences from an earlier era altogether in the harmonies and middle eights that were such a feature of the British Invasion bands.  Guitarist Darius takes up the story: “We’ve always been in a niche – too pop for indie kids and too indie for pop kids; to pop for punk and too punk for pop.  For a long time, we’ve tried to create a space for ourselves as a band in these segments – until we realized that it didn’t feel right and we’d rather create our own space.”  Bassist Jakob adds: “We worked, wrote, arranged and produced so much to finish these songs, more than we’ve ever done before – without questioning and overthinking much.  We wanted to do exactly what felt right at that moment.”

And, if the objective of Forever Outsider is to broaden the band’s appeal and reach a whole set of new ears on a new territory, then I’ll offer a thumbs-up and agree that the mission is well and truly underway.

In order to further their experimentation, the band have expanded their sound with copious splashes of sax and synth and the results are plainly evident on the EPs title track.  Piano effects are well to the fore, whilst brass and sax sit lower in the mix, fleshing out the fuzzy guitars that drive the song along.  The sound is tight and fresh, reminiscent of Blur at their mid-nineties peak or, putting it another way, prime 60s beat group music – played through a fuzzbox.  Lyrically, the song homes in on the theme of the band’s own insecurities, as Darius explains: “…Overall, we’re talking about the feeling of not really fitting in anywhere.  Isolation from friends, partners or family as a band that is constantly on tour, all the way to depression.”

The Deadnotes are joined by the delightfully monikered Shitney Beers, a German singer-songwriter and close associate, for A Glade Inside The Vines.  Another serving of authentic Britpop, the song’s title is inspired by the vineyards on the slopes of the Rhine Valley close to the band’s hometown.  The lyrics deal with the process and benefits of learning from experiences – whether good or bad – and the song is instantly likeable; cacophonous yet tuneful, and tight as a limpet’s boxer shorts.

Strutting rocker Downward Spiral is, perhaps, the top pick of this short collection.  In the band’s own words, the song tells a story of meaningless hook-ups, of being overwhelmed by dating and insecurity overplayed with arrogance.  Indebted as much to poodle rock’s dirtier, grittier cousin as it is to Britpop, the song is a triumph, and I love the sax solo and the regular bursts of solo bass guitar.

Forever Outsider is brought to its close with Dog Years, a fast, furious, yet deceptively complex song that rolls along wonderfully.  Described as “A motivational song for anyone who wants to live more in the here and now, to avoid overthinking and to trust more to gut instinct,” it’s a cracking closer, and the acoustic guitar playout is a real surprise.

Forever Outsider is an excellent EP.  There are perhaps too many “F*cking”s in the lyrics for my personal taste, but if The Deadnotes really have set their sights on a UK following, then, on the evidence of these tunes, that following is there for the taking.

Watch the official video to Forever Outsider, the title track of the EP, here:

The Deadnotes online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / YouTube

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