MSTRKRFT (Master Craft, for those of you who - like me - didn't catch on right away) is the brainchild of Death from Above 1979 bassist Jesse F. Keeler and producer Al-P. An electronic two-piece in the same vein as veterans Daft Punk and relative newcomers Hot Chip, the pair first made their name by flexing their mixing muscles on the likes of Metric, Bloc Party, and Wolfmother to create a veritable feast of floor-fillers. The Looks is their first full-length release, compiled solely of their own material. Like all club-hits, it's simple, ridiculously so - and yet it works.
Track to track, there isn't a whole lot of variety, with each song following a basic formula. Keeler and Al-P loop layers of synth and beats together to create eight tracks that although forgettable in the long run, are sure to get you dancing like C3PO on LSD. "Easy Love" is particularly irresistible, with its 80's groove and sleaze-bot vocals. The dirty and bass-shaking "Paris", with its Prodigy-esque stop-start riff (in the vein of "Girls" from Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned), is another winner.
As with any project formed in part from the ashes of another band, there's always the question of whether or not the new effort is better than the old, whether The Looks is a step backwards or forwards from You're a Woman, I'm a Machine. In truth, it's more of a step sideways. The guitars are gone, the raw edges have been smoothed and all the grit has been spit-shined into something entirely new. Fans of Death from Above 1979 might love or hate The Looks and vice versa. What I'm getting at here is that it's unfair to judge The Looks for You're a Woman, I'm a Machine when they are both from such different worlds.
If I had to have one criticism of the album, it would be that it feels, for lack of a better word, soulless - though I wouldn't have expected anything particularly revelatory or emotional from a club-targeted dance record, anyway. The Looks is a party album and as such is certainly nothing revolutionary, but as far as party albums go you can't really complain.
5.8 / 10
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