MSTRKRFT – Fist of God (2009)

MSTRKRFT - Fist of God Like a great many people, I miss Death From Above 1979. It’s a bit difficult , but I’ve learned to live with it. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect Jesse Keeler to go on to front a band like MSTRKRFT (pronounced “Masterkraft” – the reasonnig behind omitting all vowels from the band name eludes me, but I won’t argue with it).

While MSTRKRFT’s debut album, The Looks was released a few weeks before DFA1979 officially called it quits, I didn’t hear the album until the end of the year. As far as electro dance-punk goes, it wasn’t bad, but ultimately, all it really did was make me miss Keeler’s previous band. Trading in the unrestrained energy of songs like Blood On Our Hands and Romantic Rights for the bubbly Hot Chip emulation that comprised the album’s first single, Easy Love, did not seem like a fair trade. Fist of God, by contrast, is a far more aggressive album – it’s sounds as if the band is trying to force their way into the nation’s dance clubs, going for broke in the process. And they do succeed, but albeit intermittently.

If you can’t wait for the next Justice album, Fist of God will be sure to tide you over until then. Much of MSTRKRFT’s sound here borrows heavily from ; it’s got the same slick beats juxtaposed next to the same rough, fuzzed-out synths. Just about every instrumental on here sounds as if it could be a B-side to Waters of Nazareth. And that’s all good. It’s when the band starts bringing in the guest stars that things tend to run out of steam. Hearing Ghostface Killah rap alongside whirring synths might work well in a Greg Gillis snippet, but four minutes of it becomes exhausting. Same goes for the two songs featuring Jahmal. Bounce, though, is the album’s worst offender. It’s grating and repetitive, a reminder that you can’t always spin the simplistic things into gold. One collaborative song that does get it right, though, is Heartbreaker (which features John Legend); the driving piano and soulful vocals make it sound like Jamiroquai on an electro-binge. It’s easily the album’s best song. Still, it’s disheartening to see that most of the opther collaborations here are D.O.A.

So. Fist of God is a bit unbalanced. But it’s far from a failure. And yes, it still kind of makes me miss Death From Above 1979, but hey, that might not mean anything to you. If it doesn’t, and you’re in to Justice, check this album out. If not, you might be better off waiting until next week for the Junior Boys’ new album.

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