Founded in Cologne, Germany in 1985, Pink Turns Blue’s blend of atmospheric dark pop informed by European post-punk contemporaries and the buzzing punk dissonance of Hüsker Dü (the band is named after the Zen Arcade song) immediately tapped into a new canon of sound that was foundational to the emergence of darkwave, and the band was part of the first generation of gothic rock in Germany.
Originally a duo consisting of Thomas Elbern (vox, guitars), Mic Jogwer (vox, bass, and keyboards). and a drum machine, the band named themselves after a Hüsker Dü song and initially oriented themselves after The Chameleons, Clan of Xymox, and The Cure, taking the sound into a new direction entirely.
Despite the commitment to their craft and initial grassroots success, securing label support proved difficult as they refused to sing in German and their sober tone lacked the shimmer of pop and optimism that executives felt formulaic to success. Still, the band persisted with the duo of Elbern and Jogwer sharing vocal duties and song credits, each informing the other’s compositions until Elbern halved the song production and left the band in 1987. Continuing to perform and record as a three piece, the band eventually found roots with FunFactory!, an independent label based in Münster whose manager Axel Seitz shared the band’s appreciation of the Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol’s Factory vision, urging them to forego releasing singles and focus on a full-length.
What followed was 1987’s classic album If Two Worlds Kiss: a seminal offering to the canon of dark wave’s DNA – a liquid lesson in melody, mood, and pacing – each track continuously adding to the journey like a unique push pin on a map of melancholy. Defined by their dynamic song-writing, their debut added a new urgency and depth to guitar-driven gothic rock by allowing fast songs such as the lead single “Walking on Both Sides” to possess the same sullen punch and melancholy as slower anthems like “When the Hammer Comes Down”, which derives its power on the downbeat. More rhythmic variety is added through beat-driven dancefloor tracks with triumphant singalong choruses like “That Was You”, showing they could swing hard.
A year later in 1988, informed by the band’s oscillating live synergy and bolstered by a boon of new equipment and texture, Pink Turns Blue’s sophomore album Meta was a conceptual leap predicated by the study of sound and exploration of its edges. With the same fervor that Joy Division mined deeper, darker, and less linear on Closer, Meta is a cohesive meditation on atmosphere and how every note and passage can traverse space individually and as part of a larger narrative. Singles “Touch the Skies” and “Your Master Is Calling” are the albums cornerstones; airy, steady, and driving tracks with a depth of melody and orchestration that sparked a shimmering new example of dark pop. The instrumental balance throughout the album creates a strobe light journey later echoed throughout gothic compatriots exploring minor keys and nocturnal themes.
Contemplating the fear and uncertainty during the Cold War under a divided Germany, the band longed for a more romantic side. The band went on to produce eleven full-length releases in total, most recently with 2016’s The AERDT – Untold Stories (Orden Records). But today they’re back with their 12th album, Tainted.
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