Review Summary: Canadian duo with a ridiculously cool name, serve up a ridculously cool album full of infectious grooves.
Hailing from Ontario, Canada, MSTRKRFT (Masterkraft less the vowels for those of you with a cunning eye!) is the brainchild of former Death From Above 1979 bassist Jesse F. Keeler and the producer on their only album, AL-P (Alex Puodziukas). After starting with several remixes of tracks from such artists as DFA1979 label mates Panthers, Bloc Party and Metric, the duo have now decided to unleash their first LP, The Looks, upon dance floors all over the world.
In contrast to fellow electronica darlings, The Knife, this album focuses on a positive and upbeat groove through out, shunning the darker elements often present in DFA’s work. In fact, at times it bares great similarity to the two huge UK chart singles, ‘Yeah Yeah’ and ‘Put Your Hands Up For Detroit’ which have been gracing discos and parties for what seems like an eternity now. The truth is though, these were both good pop/dance singles, the kind that please almost everyone at the height of a party and perhaps what is most pleasing about this album is how they have taken similar grooves and stretched them into a constantly pleasing, yet often surprising LP.
Opener ‘Work On You’ guides the listener (or dancer) into the album with a gradual build up of elements, a simple slow beat, computerised vocals and various other bleeps and clicks that overall culminate in a lengthy, yet never boring introduction. It is when the crash of cymbals guides you into a cheesy, very (very) European trance style groove at the start of second track ‘Easy Love’ that you really know the party is starting. The track is simplicity at its most pleasing and hints at rock roots with a disco-funk guitar tomfoolery in the closing seconds. Following this we are clicked and clapped all the way through ‘She’s Good for Business’ and I guarantee, as the song says, you will “shake shake shake it”.
‘Paris’ is perhaps the most complete song on the album, it feels like it would be best at home on a fashion runway but is equally happy just to buzz along in your living room and it is perhaps the only time on the album that the duo decide to follow a darker, more sinister tone. The albums title track ‘The Looks’ is perhaps the weakest and I feel overall it lacks direction however it has still got enough a groove to get a good dance out of you and others may prefer its minimal beat. I am CERTAIN I have heard ‘Street Justice’ on some modelling TV show or something, and it follows the same swagger to ‘Paris’, this time replacing the sinister tone with a more aggressive and confrontational theme.
‘Bodywork’ provides a breather from the hostile atmosphere of those previously mentioned tracks and returns to the robotic-voice with bleeps I’m sure I’ve heard before. Oh, on Sonic when I was 8. Anyway, as I type I am fighting my limbs urge to perform the robot such is the infectiousness of this track. Closing track, ‘Neon Knights’ is the one that bares the most obvious influences from DFA, its sporadic beeps, heavy beat and aggressive melody could encourage some ambitious dance moves from that person who’s had a few too many to drink and is contemplating repainting your bathtub. It is a worthy ending to a very enjoyable album, which is equally at home accompanying a night in by the pc.
- Good flow and mix of ideas
- Hugely catchy melodies and beats with definate pop appeal
- Could prove too cheesy for some fans of more sophisticated releases