Monday, 19 October 2009

Random album review #3

MSTRKRFT - The Looks

MSTRKRFT (for the uninitiated, it's pronounced 'master-craft') are a dance music making duo from Toronto, Canada, who released their debut LP in July 2006. Could they have dreamed in their wildest dreams that, three years later, they'd find that same album - The Looks - being reviewed by none other than The Hardcore and The Gentle? Probably not. But here we are. You can just imagine the looks on the faces of Jesse F. Keeler and Al-P as they eagerly logged on to the blogosphere last Wednesday to discover which album had been selected as the next album in their favourite online album reviewing series (far too many uses of 'album' there in quick succession, my hearty apologies), only to find out that their own masterpiece (or should that be MSTRPC) had been picked! I can just see now the look of wide-eyed wonderment that they must have shared upon reading this news, as gradual realisation dawned - they had finally MADE IT in the music world. Al-P (probably) ran out in to his garden - still in nothing but his dressing gown, the silly wotsit - and with child-like excitement and energy booted a nearby football high in to the air, before throwing his arms up and wooping at the top of his voice. Jesse (probably) bashed in to his prize synthesizer, almost knocking it to the ground, in his joyous rush to get to the phone, desperate to announce the news to his mum and - well, why not? - ALL his mates.

So here we are fellas - this one's for you.

The Looks has long been one of my most loved and most played albums. It comprises only eight tracks, but you'll seldom find a collection of eight songs that make you want to tap your foot and bop your head as incessantly as those laid down by MSTRKRFT here. Having been one half of dance-rock group Death From Above 1979, Jesse F. Keeler clearly felt he'd advance things a year on in to the next decade with MSTRKRFT, as the album is an eighties-influenced slice of electro-funkiness, complete with catchier-than-swine-flu vocal hooks, squelching basslines and squealing synth melodies. Now, I'm very much a man who knows nothing of the crunch, and especially not the credit crunch, but if I was to climb up on to my high horse for a moment whilst placing my head firmly up my own rear-end along with a still unopened copy of The Economist, I'd say that The Looks is very much "pre-Credit Crunch music". Not because it sounds expensively produced or anything, but because it's just such an uplifting happy record; each tune screams out, "wooo let's party on down, all is good in the world!", and you could never imagine needing to be quantitatively eased from anything whilst listening to it.

I was lured in to recruiting The Looks in to the ranks of my music library by the three singles it had spawned: Work On You, Easy Love and Street Justice. All absolute bangers which, along with their many fine remixes for the likes of Wolfmother and DFA 1979, were beginning to build up a rather favourable view of MSTRKRFT in my mind. However, I remained wary that The Looks could transpire to be another dance album that seduces you with the lead singles, before slapping you in the ears with drab filler for the rest of the record. Delightfully, I need not have worried. As soon as opening tracks Work On You and Easy Love have worked their magic, you're greeted by the somewhat childlike female vocalist on She's Good For Business insisting that she's "got to shake it to the one", along with various other numbers, as well as making it clear that you must also join her in this activity, while an infectious clapped beat provides the backdrop for this woman's rather blunt yet highly danceable demands. The rest of the album continues in a similarly groovy style, with title track The Looks, Street Justice and Bodywork also employing highly contagious vocal loops. Street Justice, my personal favourite from the album, slowly and surely builds up, sounding for all the world like a theme tune for some kind of funk-fuelled 1980's American disco-gang (who spend their time "killing on the dancefloor"), and it's not until past halfway through the track that the piece de resistance kicks in - a piercing yet nonchalant guitar solo, oozing arrogance and cool, leaving you longing to be snorting cocaine off a hooker's back in some super fresh Miami club. In the 80's, of course.

So there you go Jesse and Al, give yourselves a big pat on the back because your debut album kicks some serious ass. Shame you then got far too eager to use your success to enlist a variety of 'guests' for your follow up album, resulting in a fairly weak record that contained little of what had made The Looks so good. Little less John Legend and Ghostface Killah on the next album please, and more of the legendary killer tunes like those from The Looks.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Now for that part of the post where all eyes turn towards what is being labelled, "the most captivating shuffling since Muhammad Ali"; that's right, it's time to select the next random album. With three albums down, things haven't been going too bad (with the exception of Astral shitting Weeks). Two modern day classic electro-dance records have been thrown up, enabling me to gush superlatives like Alesha Dixon judging a shoddy salsa on Strictly Come Dancing (that's right, not even sweet little Alesha is safe from the savage comedic barbarism of The Hardcore and The Gentle). So my friends, let's see what we'll be studying next shall we?

HA Astral Weeks has just come up again! Clearly iTunes and I have very differing opinions on how much we want to listen to that particular album. The shuffling will of course continue...

...hmm, does Brotherhood by Chemical Brothers count? It's a greatest hits after all, not an original album. Nah, it doesn't count. Shuffle shuffle...

...ooh. Interesting.

Ladies und Ehrenmanner, the next post in this ground-breaking series of random album reviews will focus on:


Tings gon' get dutty, yo (yoyoyoyo).

Here's a wee taster for you to groan to in aural pleasure:

Spank Rock - Bump

Songs I'm Currently Loving

  • The Ian Carey Project - Get Shaky - if ever there was a song I'm currently loving, it's this. And I'm only slightly ashamed to admit it. Next time you see me I'll be dancing on one of those podiums they put in the middle of dancefloors for house nights, wearing ripped and faded jeans and nothing but a waistcoat and tie on my upper half. Apart from sunglasses, of course.
  • 2562 - Flashback - recently released Unbalance by 2562 is already threatening to appear prominently in the old 'album of the year' list
  • jj - Things Will Never Be The Same Again - as is the debut album by Swedish melodic popsters jj
  • The Gaslamp Killer - Birthday Music
  • Darkstar - Aidy's Girl's a Computer
  • Invisible Conga People - Cable Dazed - PLEASE let the ridiculous band name entice you, this is a great tune.
I insist you download that song (along with the rest, they're all fab). In fact, I won't TECHNO for an answer:
Bit too cutting edge with my comedy sometimes? Probably. Here are some sweet remixes of already super-sweet tunes
Crikey! Has this been the best 'Songs I'm Currently Loving' to date? Twelve songs-worth of indisputable quality says that could well be the case...

1 comment:

  1. Awesome review mr scourfield, as per usual.