Tuesday 27 April 1993

Plattentests.de review of 'Lights Out'

 From Plattentests.de April 2023

A Bear Heads to a Rave...

Isn't it fascinating how band names use abbreviations? When searching for "MFA," our trusty search robot suggests various possibilities: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Master of Fine Arts, or Malta Football Association. However, since our focus here is on music rather than politics, academics, or football, let's narrow it down. Aha! Mono for everyone! – authentically complete with an exclamation mark.

Are we talking German electropunk? Nope, that's not it either. Rhys Evans and Alastair Douglas hail from the picturesque landscapes of Wales and the bustling city of London, and for them, The MFA represents The Motherfucking Allstars – a modest title indeed. Of course, the name is intended to be ironic.

Surprisingly, "Lights Out" – the debut album of The MFA – comes from two musicians who have been collaborating on their sound for over two decades. After releasing a few singles and EPs in the 2000s, the duo seemed to fade from the spotlight until 2021, when "Oranges and Lemons" emerged as a breath of fresh life. Now, at long last, a full-fledged album has arrived.

But what does their music sound like, given that electropunk and other mentioned genres have led us astray? It's not easy to pin down, as these tracks explore various facets of danceable music. Let's dub it tech-house-rave-pop, engineered to get everyone (not just humans) moving. Take "Bear Likes to Rave," already a contender for the year's most captivating song title. Should it be printed on a t-shirt? Our reviewer inquires on behalf of a friend.

Word on the street is that The Chemical Brothers are mulling over a new album release, while Orbital has already made waves with Optical Delusion. With these heavyweights still in the game, The MFA is undoubtedly on the right track. Their sound harkens back to the late '80s, when Acid House was born during legendary warehouse parties – immortalized in "Warehouse," a track that skillfully weaves in fitting speech snippets and the iconic Roland TB-303 sound. Its sibling, the Roland TR-808, makes a cameo in "Lammas Day" just before.

What sets this record apart is its seamless blend of functional danceability and melodic pop moments. The infectious "My Desire" instantly burrows into the listener's ears, pleasantly and unshakably, while "Identify This" infuses dreamy elements into the '90s party atmosphere.

As the digital version (boasting three more tracks than its vinyl counterpart) winds down, "You Make Me Smile" elicits grins from even the most stoic synth-poppers on the dance floor's fringes. We can't help but smile along.

Originally published here in German

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