Let’s move quickly beyond the band name; it makes no sense to me, but then I’m not German. Robocop Kraus’ latest – their first release in 15 years – is scintillating pop that recalls ‘80s alternarock, British variant. There’s a highly propulsive vibe to the songs on Smile, speeding along as they do like a musical version of the sleek and high speed tilting trains that crisscross the European continent. Throbbing arpeggiated synthesizers gleam and glisten, but they’re applied inside arrangement that offer plenty of guitars and (presumably) real drums giving the whole affair a more organic feel than it might otherwise have. Subtle echoes of early ‘70s motorik make themselves known on cuts like “On Repeat,” but the chiming pop values of the song render it more accessible than Neu! can be.
Robocop Kraus has a sharp sense of humor. The track “Cradle of Filth” is about an encounter with one of the worst bands ever to exist (or so say I, anyway). And any song that features a refrain of “to hell with Nazi scum” is a winner. The same is true of the album’s outlier, an amphetamine-paced punker called “The Foul Stench of Our Time.” It’ll conjure mental images of Jello Biafra. The record as a whole, though, is decidedly more melodious than odious, and is thus recommended.