STRANGE SOUVENIRS – Single Review: “Nothing2”

Strange Souvenirs is an electronic/alt-pop duo from Berlin, Germany comprised of brothers Thomas and Matthias Juhnke. In their own colorful words, they “blend influences from 80s new wave, 90s trip hop, post-millennial electronica & indie with science fiction soundtracks, video games and nuggets of nerd culture into a schizoid selection of danceable, delicate and disorienting songs.” Three months ago, I reviewed their enthralling single “Pixels”, and now they’re back with “Nothing2“, their sixth consecutive single release since their December 2019 debut of “Scrape”. The song is a dramatic tour de force, and one of their best yet.

Matthias wrote the lyrics for “Nothing2”, and the music was co-written by him and Thomas, along with their frequent collaborator Cameron James Laing, a talented Berlin-based producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist who also recorded, produced and mixed the track at The Famous Gold Watch Studios in Berlin. Thomas and Matthias programmed the synthesizers and Matthias sang lead vocals. Cameron played acoustic guitar, bass, piano, organ, mellotron, renegade triangle, and the orchestral string arrangement, Gidon Carmel played drums and percussion, Héloïse Lefebvre played violin and viola, Tim Hook played electric guitar and Heidi Heidelberg sang the glorious choir backing vocals. The track was mastered by Davide Ruffini at Wisseloord Studios Hilversum, Netherlands. The cover art “20/20 Eye” was created by Michelle Marie-Lou Nuerk.

The guys state “Nothing2” is “A jilted yet strangely joyful sprawl about feeling nothing at all and everything all at once. A five and a half minute emotional outburst full of misery & magic, gut-wrenching punches, beautiful bruises, abrupt endings & unexpected new beginnings.” Matthias elaborated to me that the lyrics were inspired by two unexpected and unrelated life events in the space of six months that left him at the edges of nothings, but the details are unsavoury and quite distressing, so he kept things intentionally vague. But from what I can discern, they seem to speak of a relationship that ended very badly, and just wanting to make a clean break from the past and move on.

The song opens on a somber note, with strummed acoustic guitar and droning keyboards, accompanied by Matthias’ rather melancholy vocals. Gradually, the music expands with horns and what sounds like mellotron into a more upbeat feel, though the melancholy undercurrent remains. Héloïse’s warbly strings add great texture and an eerie, disconcerting vibe to the proceedings. The song seems to end at 2:21, then abruptly starts back up with greater urgency, as more instruments and synths are added to the mix. Everything continues to build into a magnificent cinematic soundscape that calls to mind some of the mid-career songs by the Beatles. The dramatic music continues for the remainder of the song, conveying a strong sense of cathartic release from troubles of the past. It’s a phenomenal track.

There’s nothing to
Take back or undo
I thought you’d know by now
There’s no point in stalling
There’s no point in stalling

Would you please stop calling me

This is what it all amounts to
When the day is through
This is what it all amounts to
When the night’s through
Absolutely nothing
Absolutely nothing

Would you please stop calling me

There’s nothing to see
There’s nothing to say
There’s nowhere to be
So just go away

We couldn’t see the cracks in the surface
And the nothing seeping through
Watch the walls come down on the life you knew
Here comes the wrecking crew

This is what it all amounts to
When the day is through
This is what it all amounts to
When the night’s through
Absolutely nothing

Follow Strange Souvenirs:  Facebook / Instagram

Stream/purchase their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music / YouTube / Bandcamp

3 thoughts on “STRANGE SOUVENIRS – Single Review: “Nothing2”

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