MSTRKRFT: Fist Of God

 

It’s been three years since MSTRKRFT first stepped onto the dance floor, and by the sound of Fist Of God, the group never left. It appears that while artists like Justice and will.i.am. (who produced Estelle’s “American Boy”) were toiling away at the drawing board, discovering legitimately new ways to flip disco-house, MSTRKRFT continued to do what it’s always done—party ceaselessly and ape Daft Punk like it’s going out of style. The Toronto duo’s second record does even less than its first to distinguish the pair from its apparent heroes. The primary change from 2006’s The Looks is a ramped-up aggression that indeed plays well in the album’s opening moments (and particularly on the title track) but that shift toward grinding guitar-y synth and pounding bass soon becomes a rut that’s damningly short on ideas. The weak guest spots don’t help either; they’re either paper-thin overdubs by relative unknowns or rapper backer-uppers (collectively: Lil’ Mo, Jahmal, Isis), or sorely disappointing drop-ins by actual MCs. It’s an accomplishment, of sorts, to make E-40 sound awkward and rushed, and “Word Up” raises the question “Why bother ‘featuring’ Ghostface Killah if he contributes exactly 18 words to the track?” “Heartbreaker,” with John Legend, actually transcends MSTRKRFT’s manufactured purgatory. It’s a great song—musical, dance-y, poppy, and interesting—that puts the artists-in-residence to shame. All the rest is jogging music.

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