When Justice is Deaf, Not Blind
A slew of remixes and 2006’s The Looks collectively proved revelatory: MSTRKRFT, a clipping from the raucous bass-based rock of Death from Above 1979, grew into Canada’s fuzzy, fun answer to Simian Mobile Disco and Justice. In the middle of that album’s high-hats and hand claps was “Street Justice,” a song that added hints of rapped rhymes and arena-ready guitar riffs. The duo’s second album Fist of God pushes those doors to rock and hip-hop wide open, and the choice to do so sounds like a curiosity or a mistake.
There seemingly aren’t many actual guitars heard here, but filtered and rapid-fire loops in songs like “1,000 Cigarettes” and “Click Click” have a distinct classic-rock feel to them. Standing alone these might work fine, but they’re often paired with inferior R&B and hip-hop guest spots. The soul nonsense of Lil’ Mo makes “It Ain’t Love” echo some imagined Rihanna/Deep Purple mashup. Meanwhile, John Legend and the heretofore unknown Jahmal from some group called The Carps merit full Lenny Kravitz-lite workouts, yet Ghostface Killah is reduced to filthy samples and an intro? Really, guys?
Highlights like “Word Up,” the title track, and “Vuvuvu”—onomatopoeia for its swirling sample—only provide more evidence of this album’s unrealized potential, its subtraction by addition. It still recalls a half-decent club night but one only half decent because of the douchebags among the darlings, the played-out sounds among the true bangers. There’s another pair of alternative beat makers out there, Ratatat, who have made repeated public pleas to produce a hip-hop album. If MSTRKRFT’s Fist of God is any indication, maybe the rap world has the right idea keeping such a project at arm’s length.