“ANYONE WHO HAS SEEN NORA STEINER AND MADLAINA POLLINA LIVE IN RECENT YEARS SHOULD ALREADY HAVE SUCCUMBED TO THEIR LIVE QUALITIES, THEIR CHARISMA, THEIR VOICES AND, NOT LEAST, THEIR SONGS.” – WDR
Producers: Alex Sprave & Glitterhouse Records
Ich werd nie gehen
Wenn du mir glaubst
Das schöne Leben
Wait For it
Herz vorus id Wand
WATCH & LISTEN
Steiner & Madlaina paint the picture of a world that we have not perceived so impressively and reflected for a long time. Awakening, light and shadow and the distress of the present, expressed in enchanting indie-folk-pop that shows teeth and develops enormous dynamics. Sometimes their two-part vocals remind us of First Aid Kit, their songwriting accessibility makes us think of the pearly pop of Boy, then again Nora Steiner and Madlaina Pollina escort us to dark abysses, as Emily Jane White also describes. However, these are only approximate landmarks, all comparisons that do not do justice to the originality of Steiner & Madlaina.
That the two come from Switzerland is fundamental for “Cheers”, the first album of Steiner & Madlaina. “Cheers” doesn’t just mean cheers, Cheers can be a beginning and an end, a welcome and also a farewell.
Their music skillfully plays with textual ambivalence. Sometimes it flows along sweetly, then the instruments pile up to a sound roller. Through the analog sounds and partly surfy guitar sounds the album gains warmth and transports a subliminal 60s charm – a not only coquettishly dabbed stylistic device that runs through their catchy titles. The arrangements benefit from the fact that Steiner & Madlaina now perform with a full band – but the focus is always on the two voices, which harmonize so perfectly that you think you can hear the familiarity and long-standing friendship. From sensitive observations, the two weave hopeful stories that are usually denied a happy ending. Instead, a rebellious undertone resonates, for example in the urgency of “Riot” or in “Das Schöne Leben”. Nora and Madlaina themselves say: “Each song tells a story of Swiss life ‘Das schöne Leben’, for example, is the description of a privileged life drowning in abundance in a country like Switzerland. Life in a divided world where we have become afraid of realizing our dreams because of all the possibilities. So we sit paralyzed and plunge into overconsumption that temporarily fools us into a certain contentment.”
Their origins are most obviously expressed in their Swiss German song “Herz vorus id Wand”. For the already multilingual band “it was very important to have our native language present on the album as well.” With powers of observation and eloquence, they know how to tell stories of human togetherness in courses that are only superficially obvious. “Wenn du mir glaubst“ about is an ode to the failing togetherness that almost inevitably does not end in happiness. A stirring masterpiece in equal measure.
They are young, highly talented songwriters, their gift for conveying emotions through observations in their songs without becoming arbitrary with lyrics of sensitivities or using well-trodden paths, their idea of certain sounds and arrangements that adequately present their songs, multilingualism as a catalyst of content, the originality of their themes – in the world of song-oriented indie pop, this accumulation of peculiarities is rare.
From their first, self-released EPs to “Cheers”, a development can also be noticed: songs and arrangements have become more comprehensive without having lost their very own charm. They consistently implement their multilingualism – “Cheers” comprises five German-language, four English-language and one Swiss-German titles. This meets the highest artistic standards. And yet it is accessible. So light and buoyant one moment – so deeply grounding the next. As if folded from rice paper and cast from bronze – at the same time. This gem of avant-pop art is a true gift. A gorgeously gifted pair with a gorgeously engaging debut album. Cheers!