"Affair of the Heart" (Album, 2013) !dsoaudio recommended!
Having built a cult following on the international club circuit with their three previous albums Privilege Entails Responsibility (2006), In Exile (2008) and Malady (2010) by performing their unique blending of influences into a Weimar Republic synthesiser cabaret act, Berlin based male/female duo Noblesse Oblige release their fourth album with Affair of the Heart, and it is their most impressive yet.
As much as I love the songs that emerged from those three previous long-players, the creative place Noblesse Oblige have managed to find here convinces me that this is where they truly belong. Hardcore 'purist' fans of the early years might balk at Affair, perhaps even dismiss this as NO's sell-out moment. But they will have missed the point entirely, for Affair of the Heart sees Sebastian Lee Philipp and Valerie Renay now occupying that most elusive of positions for artists working in any creative field – the nexus of expression of the self and what a paying public want to hear. Consequently, expect this to introduce the band to a wider audience than ever before. True, their earlier compositions (particularly the first two albums) were edgier, subversive even, but that strain of their writing has been neither abandoned nor sacrificed here. Instead, it finds itself enveloped in more sumptuous wrappers which, it could be argued, is actually the more subversive approach to broadening a listening audience's awareness whilst entertaining them.
Such is the strength of the writing across the board it's virtually impossible to single out any one song as the standard-bearer for the album, but tenth track Voices In My Head closes things rather beautifully. Affair of the Heart then is both Noblesse Oblige's most accessible album so far, and their most clever. The hardest thing in music, as in any art, is to pull off broad success on the back of the most naturally expressive, uncompromised creativity. With this, Philipp and Renay look set to launch themselves onto another plane. I can think of few musicians more deserving of the accolades they will undoubtedly receive for this, their finest work of art. 8/10
Rob Dyer (July 2013)