Picks and Pans Review: Fearless

updated 01/23/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/23/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

Nina Hagen

As a consumer warning it should be said that anyone who buys this LP for the tune New York, New York had best not expect the John Kander/Fred Ebb song that Frank Sinatra turned into a municipal anthem. Hagen's New York, New York is a typical semirapped, semisung, semicoherent piece about Manhattan discos and other things. It's hard to tell exactly what the other things are, since the East Berlin-born Hagen has not done much to rid herself of her accent. (One track, Zarah, is sung in German, which comes as a relief since listeners don't have to strain to try to catch the lyrics; they can just give up right away.) That problem is a pervasive one. It's clear what, say, Flying Saucers or TV. Snooze are supposed to be about, though the particular details will have to wait for a translation. Not that understanding the words is all that crucial. Hagen's music is really created to dance, not listen, to. And this time she benefits from the predictably infectious arrangements of Giorgio Moroder, who co-produced the LP. Hagen, as she did on her last LP, Nun Sex Monk Rock, scales the vocal continuum from whispers to caterwauling. She sounds sometimes like an old Marlene Dietrich 78 played at about 800 rpm. But she is a personality at least as much as she is a singer, and this album maintains her image as a New Wave nihilist—you can dance to.

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