The Notwist – “One With The Freaks”

Have you ever, have you ever…

This is easily one of my 5 favorite songs. Ever. And the fact that nobody knows about this band makes me cherish them, the album this tune’s from, and of course the song itself even more.

A kind of friend of mine back in the day had a habit of naming her graphic design projects after song titles. One of my least favorite of her designs was named “One With The Freaks,” so while I listened to and liked a lot of her other inspiration songs, I didn’t look up that particular song for a long time.

And when I did, I felt drawn to the tune in a way that I still can’t really explain. The song’s a stripped down indie electronic-rock ditty on the feeling of being an outsider, of just not quite getting it: as you have to learn the lesson twice, so to speak. The vocalist’s singing is plaintive and unpolished (maybe because the band’s German?), but that slight hesitation and wavering on enunciation gives the song a twangy, awkward overtone. And the guitar kick midway through the tune is a little bit unexpected, but gives the entire song a cautiously optimistic kick in the pants — hey, you’re down on your luck, you’re not quite fitting in, but you’re not the only one, and that’s okay.

“Neon Golden” (the album the song’s from) is more like the first half of “One With The Freaks” than the second half; a lot of electronic beeping and cryptic kind of lyrics. “Pilot” and “This Room” are two other favorite cuts off that album, and both largely stay in that aesthetic. “One With The Freaks” deviates from that, but in a way that makes sense. The song’s all about not quite getting it, so to speak, but the tone evolves from “oh poor you” to “hey you’re not the only one,” just through a musical style shift, and that’s awesome.

The music video is pretty awesome too. Poor jellyfish.

(Image: Smoke Bomb by Alex Roulette, via adrifts)

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