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Album Review: Schwarz Don’t Crack ‘No Hard Feelings’


When you think of Berlin music you either think techno raves or barbaric metal, not anything remotely RnB. Set out to put the German capital on the map as the soulful capital of Europe is the duo of American Ahmad Larnes and German Sebastian Kreis, a.k.a Schwarz Don’t Crack, with their throwback electro-pop twang.

Opening with their single Getaway, this lively track packs a serious punch. Filled with a range of dark, vibrating synthesisers, we are first introduced to Larnes’ seriously sultry vocals, which work so well over the gritty underlay. Accented with classic 80’s 808 sounds and floating synthesiser stabs, it’s certainly a powerful start to the 12-track project.

“Pulsating bass and even smoother vocals from Larnes makes this track is perfect for those late night cruises.”

Continuing with this bashful sound, Drivin follows with its love-story-like narrative. Pulsating bass and even smoother vocals from Larnes makes this track is perfect for those late night cruises. Journeying deeper into these mysterious, night-time tracks is All My Love. Driven by a rhythmic sample from rock legend Tom Waits, this dark and grimy track proves to be one of the highlights from the album, with Larne’s tranquil vocals gliding effortlessly over this deep, low-end track.

First Love works well in the same way as All My Love. Featuring a stripped back and touching piano based instrumental, Schwarz Don’t Crack venture into a new feel entirely. With the addition of strings and even a female vocalist, it’s a refreshing change from the synth-cluttered project which hits us right in the feels.

Going on to Lost In Time, the track itself feels lost. Going from the seductive rhythm of First Love, this fast-paced track simply comes across as cluttered with its pop chorus and harsh synth lines. Luckily the duo return to their strengths with the darker blend of catchy verses and ambient sounds.

Mirrors Don’t Lie presents another parallel sound for the pair. Opening with a rhythmic range of congo drums, we’re soon lead to a build up which climaxes on an house influenced chorus. The beat alone has us shuffling for days!

Keeping us dancing is Take What You Want,  a definite head-nod to their inspiration Timbaland. Larnes belts out magic verses over fluttering 2000-esque synths and popping beats, topped off with a rap feature from fellow Berlin based emcee Shumee.

Sadly the next three tracks fails to deliver this same level of engrossment. Incomplete shows off the duo’s softer side but continues to portray the same themes of love and loss we’ve seen throughout. Little Pieces comes through with a heavy beat, which quickly becomes drowned out and a little boring. Similarly, Missing You has this huge, bold production, which unfortunately just comes off as uninteresting.

“Schwarz Don’t Crack have definitely worked well to produce a project which certainly oozes potential…”

Luckily though, for the finale the pair managed to whip up the highlight of the project, Call Me/This Day. This slow burning track has just the right mix of everything. Larnes absolutely shines on this track! Seriously, his voice sounds amazing, addicting, and more compelling than ever. Production wise the laidback, seductive beat aligns wholly with the vocals, making for one explosive close

For their debut album, Schwarz Don’t Crack have definitely worked well to produce a project which certainly oozes potential, but for us there’s a key issue. Each track seems to stand well on its own, but in the run of the album they largely become repetitive and tiresome. Not to say that it’s the whole project, but there are large parts of it which all have a similar electro-pop feel, and become drowned out because of that.

There’s no doubt the pair definitely have a huge potential, but the standouts are just that…standouts. Despite this, we can’t wait to hear what they have up their sleeves next, so listen to their single below and have a listen for yourself. No hard feelings right?

Album Rating: 3

Schwarz Dont Crack artwork