Modern Family Unit: Die Unbekannten – single review
Modern Family Unit
Single available Friday 3rd November
The track ‘Die Unbekannten’ opens with creeping keys and electronic spirals which enter the ear and pull us into dark thoughts – imagine a music box playing with your mind, and plunging, as the track title suggests, into ‘the unknown’. These thoughts thicken, the feeling grows more intense as a recording burrs in, bubbling with Germanic language.
And that’s just the introduction to the latest track from the Manchester-based Modern Family Unit, says Louder Than War’s Emily Oldfield…
Then boom. There’s a kind of beat drop. A blistering progression. Hand claps and a vocal veer their way through, paced to match the creeping music-box feel of the opening flicker. ‘That was the day when I fell in love’ falls like something sinister, sashaying over gut-plucky bass and the blend of keys; setting a foreboding mood I was hooked onto like a thrill.
The atmospheric inching of lines ‘with you’ wield a wash of guitars and a more rousing rhythm into the mix, proving Modern Family Unit’s skill at pacing. If you think modern electronica is just a series of synths then ‘Die Unbekannten’ is going to shake your mind – and your bones. I just couldn’t help grooving along when I heard it.
‘Dressed up like a Russian doll, stripped down like a stripper queen’ – fizzes the chorus: fast vocals which have a brilliant frenzied ‘pop’ to them. This a tune which seems to express the speed of modern life, the process of layering, the sculpting of self – hitting on themes of connection, appearance and beauty.
The story is the sound, as we become witness to a dressing and undressing through the duration of the music – as the build of guitar undulates, the bass slides, electronic beats pulse and there’s the frenetic scream of ‘attractive’. It’s almost sexual. It certainly is palpable.
Yet despite ‘Die Unbekannten’ being so intense and sensual, it doesn’t get carried away. It is well paced and produced, as a more minimalistic interlude allows the listener to reflect and also gives a rallying effect to even more voluminous vocals as the track develops. The voice grows more emotive, more impassioned. The final vocal volley even has a real hiss to it… slipping right into your ear like the electronica at the start of the track.
A tune that doesn’t just sound good, but looks good. It’s even the soundtrack to the new high powered, synth driven promotional video for ‘Beauty Bay’ (which you can watch here), on TV from the 1st November – a Manchester brand amplifying its advertising with a Manchester band in effective unity.
This is a tune which blends the electronic with the intimate, the human with the machine, beauty with bitterness, love with loss. It ends with the lines ‘I fell in love with you’ and that original creep of keys, as if highlighting how intense, how disturbing, love can be. Beautifully crafted and blisteringly catchy. If it doesn’t have you moving, then I don’t know what will.
All words by Emily Oldfield