Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Album Review :: MOTHXR - Centerfold
February 26 2016 (Kitsuné Records/Sony Red)
Words: Richard O'Hagan
Listen carefully, because this is very important. Do you like 80s music? Do you really, really, like 80s music? Because if you don’t like 80s music, you’d be better off skipping this review and going and reading about one of the other excellent bands that we’ve featured on Little Indie today.
Seriously, this record – the debut album from Brooklynites MOTHXR (no, we don’t know how to pronounce it, either) – couldn’t wear its 80s influences any more prominently if it went on strike for several years or bombed Libya. For a start, it’s called ‘Centerfold’, which for most people will always be a slightly dirty J Geils Band hit. Musically, it is as if the band have taken every instrumental electronica act from that decade, from Freeez to 808 State, and thrown them all into one giant musical fondue. And then, just in case all of that was a bit too subtle, the cover features a 1980s model wearing a Sony Walkman.
Generally speaking, the vocals are either so far back in the mix or so deliberately distorted as to be incomprehensible. ‘Touch’, a single in the past, possibly features the vaguely worrying line “If only I can touch her” in the course of sounding like a sleepy version of Hot Chip, whilst the low and occasionally droning title track features an “I don’t know” riff that pretty much sums up trying to understand what MOTHXR are going on about.
That’s not the big beef here, though. There are eleven songs here and they all follow the same musical theme, all clocking in at roughly the same sort of time and in the same sort of time signature. ‘Fight The Feeling’ briefly threatens to break the mould, kicking off with a few bars of wacky syncopation in the manner of Late Of The Pier, but is swiftly reined in. Closer ‘I Can See’ features the most extreme vocoder action since the days of Does It Offend You, Yeah, and current single ‘She Can’t Tell’ at least has a touch of 80s funk about it. None of it, though, makes for a record you’re going to be listening to very often – no matter how much you love the 1980s.