Burn down the city, leave the country, go underground, not much more was actually left. How to continue after the completely plausible megalomania of "Pop & Death I + II", a 20-song grandezza, the biggest throw of Die Heiterkeit to date? With an even bigger throw, of course. "Was Passiert Ist" gathers 11 songs about loneliness, disillusionment and disorientation - and meets these gloomy topics with such radiantly bright sovereignty and serene grandeur, as they have not yet been heard in German pop.
Never has Die Heiterkeit sounded lighter and more pop shiny, never have her songs been more comforting, a warm embrace in bitterly cold times. And never did this always also a bit mysterious, cool-cool band sound closer and more personal. Relentless comparison ferrets can paint a new reference comparison idea into their vocabulary notebook next to their double and triple underlined, slowly already richly yellowed "Nico": The fourth cheerfulness throw, once again produced by Moses Schneider, is a timeless glossy work, elegant and and eternally valid as "Pet Sounds". Stella Sommer's singing effortlessly strolls through the very big themes of insecurity that many people find so hard to bear, that demand a pop song to be less complicated than life, confuse love with clinginess and interest in others with self-abandonment.
With few words she paints pictures in which one can find oneself. She presses fleeting scenes and feelings into tough gold melancholy and liquid amber, so that others can see them as jewels. And on this album she once again shows herself to be one of the most gifted songwriters in the country - and an exceptional singer whose voice, no matter what she sings, sounds immediately like worship to even the most incredulous pagan listener. This time she not only wrote the lyrics, but also arranged most of the album alone and played many of the instruments herself - her guitar is there, which is also a completely new experience of serenity, heard only once, instead swinging quite wide, soothing keyboard pads and soft piano caresses - and actually, truly and without joke a trombone, namely that of Jérôme Bugnon (Seeed). Moses Schneider himself played bass, Philipp Wulf drums and percussion.
Like an oblivious wanderer, the sound in these breathing, dynamic songs moves farther and farther away from the beginning, strolling over the horizon, toward heaven and dissolution - did we mention the church service thing? There are two kinds of songs on What Happened: Hits and anthems. "An Old Dream" and "The Word" are dramaturgically cleverly placed churners. The proudly solitary fanfare "Das Wort" finally gives the most hushed feeling of our time a sublime, bubbly anthem: "It's called lonely / The word for it is lonely!"
Since 2010, Stella Sommer has been the fixture of Die Heiterkeit, a band that knows how to change shape like a shapeshifter and thus never stagnates. Each of the three albums released so far sounded different from its predecessor, was made differently - and thought completely differently, with Sommer as the mind-changer. Spiegel Online crowned her "Princess Gloom", "pop tragödin" called the Austrian "Standard" and compared her with Scott Walker, for her solo album "13 Kinds of Happiness" the international press celebrated her as a dark but gracious Madonna, "a masterclass in gothic precision" has succeeded, they wrote in Great Britain - "there's hopeless beauty in abundance" - and in France they bowed before the "goddess from Hamburg" and came to the conclusion: "Lou Reed aurait adoré" - Lou Reed would have loved it. How Solo Summer becomes Serenity Summer again?
By dissolving the already very bland boundaries between persons: "This girl is me / with another face".
A small disturbance at the end must finally be allowed, in order to press the rapt listener gently back to earth. "The stars in the sky have run out," Sommer sings in almost Nick Caveschian gloom prophecy to the ominous piano, "the sky is now a pile of ashes." For all the consolation that this music so abundantly provides, the finding remains: that there is a generation that, despite all the supposed permanent networking that supposedly wraps you like a roulade in a social net every day, has to struggle with a constant, diffuse feeling of being overwhelmed and insecure. Stella Sommer gives this insecure generation a voice. And shows her - this is the great feat of this record - that she is not alone with this feeling of loneliness.