Released the same year as their smash hit 85555, Spliff's third album HERZLICHEN GLÜCKWUNSCH! doesn't feature anything approximating their immensely catchy ironic pop single "Carbonara," but it continues their fusion of rock and electronics and manages to stay interesting throughout its running time. The main forces within the band are still drummer Herwig Mitteregger's rock-based songwriting, the booming sound of his Simmons drums, and his punk-influenced singing voice on one end of the spectrum, and Reinhold Heil's keyboard textures, his laconic, almost rap-like vocals, and his electronic-oriented songs on the other. The group managed to score another hit with the single "Das Blech" (as in "Da fliegt dir ja das Blech weg," a colloquialism which could be roughly translated as "This blows your mind") -- a coolly arranged synth funk number for the dancefloor, with an electronic percussion solo in the middle. Elsewhere on the album, there's Mitteregger's energetic title track with an almost atonal bridge, a dreamy funk song written and sung by bassist Manfred Praeker ("Tag für Tag" -- "Day by Day"), and the Kraftwerk-ian "Herr Kennedy," with vocals by all four group members. Even though Heil's contributions are more diverse and interesting, the album's best tracks are written by Mitteregger: the frantic "Wohin? Wohin?" ("Where To? Where To?"), a fast-paced rock number about smuggling in Algeria, and the epic album closer "Glaspalast" ("Glass Palace"), which keeps building its intensity from its slow, moody beginning. While nothing on HERZLICHEN GLÜCKWUNSCH! is absolutely essential, the album is an interesting clash of styles that rewards repeated listening.
This review was written for the All-Music Guide on September 7, 2007.
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