By Jude Manning
December 21, 2012
The Danger of Light is the fourth album from Swiss-born Sophie Hunger (born Émilie
Jeanne-Sophie Welti) and once again she mixes things up not just lyrically
(she sings in English, French, Swiss-German and German) but also in the rich
variety of musical styles she draws on; be it jazz, blues, rock or even glimpses of
From the punchy, syncopated piano and handclap of the opening track ‘Rererevolution’
unfolds an eclectic mix of voice, melody and percussion which manages to segue
from insistent, even monotonous vocals into a smooth, velvety chorus; and from
muted trombone and lilting guitar into sparse piano with a plaintive cry. Hunger
and her band treat us to this and a number of technically complex arrangements
throughout the album, including several more accessible pieces that are just as
skilfully put together and immediately appealing. ‘LikeLikeLike’ is testimony to
this with its joyous harmonising and cheeky trombone that exudes an instantly
catchy quality, whilst a skipping drum beat keeps up the momentum and is,
incidentally, complemented perfectly by its video.
Maintaining some humour but perhaps less playful, ‘Das Neue’ pokes a cynical
finger at what’s considered ‘progress’ today, presenting some of the album’s
more interesting lyrics in German. However these aren’t entirely inaccessible to
“Zuckerberg ist der neue Columbus/Der Bank Mann die neue Aristokratie”
The one Swiss-German track, ‘Z’lied vor Freiheitsstatue’ is a subtler offering; it’s
a gentle song in which Hunger’s soft, ethereal tones quash any misconceptions
we might have that Germanic languages are harsh on the ear.
With ‘Holy Hells’ and ‘The Fallen’ the cobwebs are blown away as both singer
and band let loose with more powerful, energetic performances after which ‘The
Perpetrator’ takes us down into smoky Berlin cabaret territory, before the album
ends beautifully on the delicate ‘Take a Turn’; a short, sweet, unembellished trio
of words, guitar and harmonica that showcases the purity of Hunger’s voice.
Deceptively simple, there’s more to Sophie Hunger’s latest collection than what
is initially presented to us, not least a rich opportunity for a lyrical interpretation
that extends to the English-language tracks. However, fans of the raw and
energetic originality of Hunger’s previous album, 1983, may find The Danger of Light
a slightly pale imitation of its predecessor.