REVIEW: Straatligkinders: Verdwyn

 

Reviewer: Ashton Kirsten

Straatligkinders have recently delivered their new album, Verdwyn, and while their heavier sound has been tweaked, their new album makes for easy listening that retains the band’s unmistakable essence. Inspired by time, the album marks a definite moment of maturation in the band’s discography.

Verdwyn showcases experimental sounds and a move towards marketability to a wider audience without losing their signature sound. The most emblematic track in this regard is their collaboration with Hemelbesem on the track “Nikodemus”. The track is sincere, thought-provoking and showcases slower, moodier synth tones. This melding of genres is an unexpected and welcome marker of hybridized ingenuity from the band. Track seven, “Krake”, also exhibits this somewhat tentative move to synth as a viable sound and is overflowing with sugary pop undertones.

This album acts as a reinvention of the band and their sound: it presents as a tribute to the legacy of Afrikaans music past and the future of South African rock. The poetic nature of the lyrics is reminiscent of artists such as Koos Kombuis and David Kramer. The track “Ek Wil Jou Nooit Weer Sien” is the namesake and cover of the famous Andre Schwartz song that was released in 1995. Twenty-three years later, the band revisits Schwartz’s legacy and distills the nostalgic energy of the track in an imaginative, authentic way. Schwartz’s original underlying playfulness is retained and attentively modernized.

The fourth track of the album, “Woord Vir Woord” is a distinctive echoing of the religious themes present in their previous offerings. Dealing with themes of forgiveness, heaven, and love, the track is tender and destined to be on many a lover’s playlist. Similarly, “Herinner” features Pretoria-based songbird Lucinda Neethling and details the narrative of a modern love story, complete with lyrics describing dreaming, optimism, and the innate uncertainty of our age.

The first single released was “Wonder”, most likely because the track is keenly reminiscent of the Straatligkinders sound longstanding audiences have come to know and love. This song is seemingly a shout out to the MK era of emerging Afrikaans rock – complete with a witty, brazen-yet-wholesome music video.

The album is a progression and metamorphosis of Straatligkinders’ sound, and acts as a call to stay true to Afrikaans rock tropes and truths. The inching towards experimentation with pop is sure to secure a wider listenership, but should still satisfy diehard fans as the band has ensured retention of their rock core. It is refreshing to welcome Straatligkinders back to the stage, and we look forward to continued growth and retro nostalgia.