The Berlin artist’s songs are unpretentious but moving, emotional but relaxed. He shows up just the way he is, says what he thinks, and sings what he feels. No matter how he’s doing.

Robert Winter


You don’t even need to meet Haller to become friends with him—you only have to listen to him: the Berliner’s songs are unpretentious but moving, emotional but relaxed. Haller plays with language, takes everyday things apart, talks to himself, builds in soft little twists—but nonetheless everything is expressed, everything ends up on his plate, rather than being pulverized into empty slogans in a pondering machine. Because that’s Haller: He shows up just the way he is, says what he thinks, and sings what he feels. No matter how he’s doing.

With his first album, it felt like Haller hits every nail on the head. He doesn’t simplify, he clarifies: In reflective words that anyone would understand. And that somehow express what everyone is feeling without deploying platitudes. Nothing sounds hackneyed or trite; even the passage he borrows from Hildegard Knef in “Hundejahre” sparkles as if champagne had just been poured into a glass. Haller’s greatest asset, however, is his special gift of transforming even dark thoughts into charismatic pop songs that are light as a feather—with humanity, frankness and fascinating plain text sung in his head voice. But that’s only one of the many sounds that Haller deploys on his first long-playing album.

The songs were composed over the course of nine months, before Haller recorded them in the studio together with his producer Jens Schneider. Arranged sensitively and with lots of attention to detail, they develop an extraordinary appeal. The melodies are catchy, without making it too easy; the texts are dotted with little anecdotes and spiced with a subtle pinch of self-deprecation. Sometimes they’re even kitschy. “But kitschy in a good way!”, Haller quickly adds. They’re about childish professional dreams (“Was nicht mehr aus uns wird”), self-esteem (“Schön genug”), ending something (“Große kleine Liebe”), arriving somewhere (“Hundejahre”), and many other typical Haller topics, large and small. Each them is a part of him, Haller says, and each one is true. And with every track we grow a bit fonder of this Haller.

By the way, the album is called “Kuss”. No, not the kind of kiss between two mouths, but rather the one at the end of a letter. If you open this one up, you get 13 sensitive and touching compositions—and a precious collection of clear thoughts.

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Robert Winter