Sunday, March 29, 2009

MSTRKRFT - Fist of God

It's been 3 years since MSTRKRFT's debut "The Looks" and in the scene of Electronic music, that can seem like an eternity. On their latest release, Fist Of God, the Canadian duo (Jesse F. Keeler & Al-P) embrace change while attempting to keep their sound in tact. The result is a series of highs and lows, a step forward and sadly a step back. MSTRKRFT changes very little in their productions and sound, almost every track is filled with the standard "Fuzzed" synth that made "The Looks" such a great album. Surprisingly, that still sounds fresh, but some of the other beats go on too long, stopping the momentum and begging you to hit fast forward. Do not give into that temptation, because the mix and sequence of this album is the best I've heard since Justice's "Cross". If they intended to make a complete party album, they have succeeded, with a few hiccups.

The opener "It Ain't Love", featuring Lil' Mo is a huge step forward. Instantly recognizable, upbeat and with a killer break at 1:38, not to mention the addition of vocals, something missing from their debut. In fact, 8 of the 11 tracks on "Fist Of God" are collaborations with the other 3 being beats used to keep the tempo and usher in another song often seamlessly. Other highlights include "Fist of God", a club banging beat with stuttering vocals that leads into "So Deep" featuring Jahmal, a hint of where R&B may be heading. MSTRKRFT has already remixed Usher's "Love In This Club" and John Legend's "Green Light", while producing at least one track on the forthcoming Black Eyed Peas album. Jahmal's high range vocals stay completely in step with the energy, at times reminiscent of Michael Jackson's "Off The Wall" era, quite an accomplishment.

For the complete opposite, look no further than "Heartbreaker". John Legend's bass, low end vocals drag the track down so much it is the only time in the entire album that there is not a mix into the following song. I cannot see any possible way for "Heartbreaker" to lead into "Fist of God" without it sounding completely out of place. My guess is neither could MSTRKRFT , but the pause is so obvious it almost points out the weakest track on the album. The biggest disappointment comes courtesy of "Word Up" featuring Ghostface Killah. Talk about a monumental waste! Ghostface is one of the hottest MCs and for him to not even have a verse is inexcusable. "It's all in the fuckin/Do it Hard" for 3 minutes seems more like a sample and if that's the case, they could have dug through any of his great albums for a crushing line, or two.

Despite the missteps, Fist Of God is still a very good album due mainly to the fact that you can play it straight through (a rarity these days). Add to that, a few fresh voices and good beats and you have an album that should keep you entertained, if not moving on the dance floor. Another saving grace is of course, the remix. Before the album was even in stores, remixes were hot and ready to serve. For your listening pleasure, one of my favorites... Fist Of God ( RE.edit).

Fist of God ( Re.Edit) - MSTRKRFT

Death Cab For Cutie To Release New Material In The Coming Weeks -

Death Cab For Cutie will release "The Open Door EP" as soon as next week digitally and is currently premiering a new song daily on The 5-song ep consists of 4 new songs and 1 demo from their Narrow Stairs recording sessions. Although some critics seem to think Narrow Stairs was a half-hearted effort, missing much of their earlier energy and creativity, I found it very focused and lyrically just as strong as any other album. Where some people saw repetitive and boring, I recognized an attempt to flesh out serious emotions with simple song structures(The closing, "The Ice Is Getting Thinner" is a beautiful song and prime example). If in fact you did enjoy Death Cab's latest offering, then you should not be disappointed with the companion ep.

"Little Bribes" was introduced as "Casino Blues" during Ben Gibbard's solo/acoustic tour and sort of gets lost with the full band. Even if it was polished a bit more, it would have seemed ridiculously out of place on Narrow Stairs. Give a listen to Ben's original version taken from Philly in 07. "A Diamond & A Tether" is fantastic, so much that I'm upset it didn't make the album, I can't wait to hear it live! Check out the chorus of your new favorite song, "I know you can't hold out forever/Waiting on a diamond and a tether/From a boy who can't swim/But who will dip his toe in/Just to keep you here with him..."

The Official Tracklisting:
1. Little Bribes
2. A Diamond and a Tether
3. My Mirror Speaks
4. I Was Once a Loyal Lover
5. Talking Bird (demo)

The Open Door Ep is scheduled for release on 3/31 (digital), 4/7 (on tour) & 4/14 (retail). If you were fortunuate to get tickets, Death Cab For Cutie will play the Aragon, April 17th. See you there.

Casino Blues - Ben Gibbard