“Love” – Get Well Soon
I know there’s an awful lot of good music out there, but it’s still a shock to hear something as good as “Love” and realise that Get Well Soon and its creator Konstantin Gropper, have been around since 2008. Admittedly he’s better known in his native Germany and also better known as a film composer, but an album of this quality makes you wonder why he isn’t better known generally. This is his fourth album and you can probably guess the theme from the title but this isn’t a chocolate-box, hearts and flowers version of love, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Gropper is highly literate and his take on the theme of love emphasises the mystery and the messiness against a constantly morphing musical background. The press release for the album helpfully supplies a list of artists that Gropper was listening to while making the album, and some of them are fairly evident in the finished product with a strong hint of early Tom Petty on “It’s Love”.
At times, the album has a symphonic feel; the opening song “It’s a Tender Maze” has an intro which is partly influenced by Eastern music and partly the sound of an orchestra tuning up before a performance, while the final song, “It’s a Fog” brings the album to a brass-led, raucous conclusion. Along the way, there are elements of disco in “Young Count Falls for Nurse”, St Etienne-flavoured pop in “It’s a Catalogue”, jangly indie in “Marienbad” and a Richard Hawley retro sixties influence in ”I’m Painting Money”. The musical quality and variety is everything you’d expect from someone who soundtracks films, and the lyrics are outstanding.
Gropper’s natural lyrical style is laced with cynicism which manifests itself here as a sense of puzzlement at the manifestations of love and the way in which it’s painted by our consumer society as he focusses on the strange and sometimes grubby aspects of the phenomenon. “It’s Love” is a song celebrating first love, but the reference to blood-stained knickers pulls it back into the physical world with a jolt. “33” is a series of little observations of the life of a person whose life has stagnated at that age and has a couple of fine lyrics which demonstrate Gropper’s wry, almost sarcastic, style: ‘your green batik doesn’t fit you no more, that’s a shame ’cause Batik’s coming back’ and ‘this year you are 33, but when you cry you still look 16’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a nineties Babybird album.
“Love” is a fascinating attempt to explore a theme that defies logical explanation. Konstantin Gropper’s answer is to admit that he doesn’t have a clue while painting perfect miniatures of the experience of love or its absence against a hugely varied set of arrangements. It works superbly.
Out now on Caroline/Universal (CAROLO10CD).