Make sure to catch MP3-freebie, "Click Click" featuring E-40. You'll find the download within the review
Rest in peace, A, E, I, O and U. Text speak has entered the mainstream. There is no place for vowels in this fast-paced modern world – especially, it seems, in the world of electro house, if Canadian collective MSTRKRFT (“Master-kraft”) is anything to go by. Obviously, Jesse F. Keeler (Death From Above 1979) and producer Al-P (girlsareshort) are prepared to spare the superfluous when it comes to the moniker of their brainchild. It’s just too bad they didn’t take the same particular approach to their latest release, Fist of God, which somehow manages to be mediocre, despite boasting some impressive guest spots.
The opener, “It Ain’t Love”, is a standout track of the album: with a fat, distorted bass line contorting beneath Lil Mo’s deep, “house diva” vocals, it brings to mind a lovechild between “Song 4 Mutya” and “Technologic”. It’s clear what kind of vibe Messrs Keeler and... uh, P are aiming for here: Fist of God cries out for comparisons with Voyager and Justice’s Cross, but sadly, their best efforts do nothing to fill the shoes of those two giants. While track two, “1000 Cigarettes”, carries the high from the high-energy first track, things begin to slump with the inane, repetitive “Bounce”: “All I do is party, ha ha ha ha, bounce low, bounce high”, and so on and so forth for the best part of three minutes. Electro house may not be, on the whole, renowned for its lyricisms, but this track comes across as almost a parody of the genre’s conventions. It took two guest stars (N. O. R. E. and Isis) to spawn this drivel?
Certainly, no track on the album (bar “Click Click”, featuring E-40) comes anywhere near to equalling “It Ain’t Love”. “Vuvuvu” is as meaningful as its title implies (which is to say, little to none), and the title track “Fist of God” sounds like an inferior reprise of “1000 Cigarettes”. As for the actual reprise of “1000 Cigarettes”, “1000 Cigarettes feat. Freeway”? It’s a filler track of 20-odd seconds of dialogue: certainly, this album does not continue in the same vein as it started out. It’s disappointing, because anyone who is familiar with Death From Above 1979’s You’re a Woman, I’m A Machine knows what Keeler is capable of.
“Heartbreaker”, featuring John Legend, is without a doubt the most bewildering song on Fist of God, simply for the fact it is included in the album in the first place. Opening like OneRepublic’s “Apologize” or something from Elton John’s back catalogue, it is, essentially, a showcase for Legend to parade his undeniable vocal talents, and it jars with the processed, “doof doof doof” vibe of the rest of the album. Over the space of just one track, MSTRKRFT has gone from partying all the time, bouncing low, bouncing high, to lamenting “you’re in my mind, you’re in my heart” in this soulful ballad.
It’s not the only guest spot that turns sour, either. “Word Up” sounds like something one would play in an aerobics class. With Ghostface Killah as your instructor, this could have turned out awesome – but as it is, his larger-than-life persona is reduced to little more than a few sound bytes (“do it harder”, “word up”) that could be courtesy of anybody. It’s a shame, because what Fist of God sorely needs is a shot in the arm of pizzazz, and Ghostface certainly has enough of that to go around. Jahmal Tonge of fellow Canadian group The Carps features on “So Deep” and “Breakaway”, though why his Patrick Stump-esque impression earns him two spots on the album’s track listing is a little bewildering.
Overall, Fist of God is a decidedly average album, with moments of inspiration dulled by generic, synth-driven drones. MSTRKRFT have a long way to go before they stand shoulder to shoulder with Justice and Daft Punk, who do it harder, better, faster, stronger – and more grammatically correct.