Wednesday 17 March 1993

Electronic&Roll Review of 'Lights Out'

From Electronica&Roll 17th March 2023

'A year and a half ago, no one expected the return of The MFA. Only the most nostalgic for the primitive sound of early Border Community wondered what had become of them, without any hope that they would show any artistic signs of life.

However, due to the global pandemic, they surprised everyone by returning to the scene with an EP called Oranges and Lemons, released through the German label Traum Schallplatten. They demonstrated that they had not lost their ability to create exciting melodic themes, but that they also returned to offer something more. That something more takes shape and form today with the release of Lights Out, their debut album almost 20 years after their impressive breakthrough in the European electronic scene with the already iconic 'The Difference It Makes'.

Back on Traum, their new home, and with so much time elapsed, no one can expect them to rely on what is already known but rather to take advantage of all the possibilities that come with creating a work consisting of 10 tracks: expanding their sound and exploring new territories. In short, offering something different that can endure.

With that ambition, and let's not forget the backdrop of a pandemic and two decades of life experience in their bodies and minds, Lights Out becomes a work that is both special and curious.

It is an album that is weaving different ideas due to its sonic variety and serves both as a calm listen at home and as a dance floor banger, as well as something to enjoy in a club at different times.

Alastair Douglas and Rhys Evans themselves recognize their unmistakable influence on the 90s rave culture and club scene and the explosion of creative freedom through electronic music that occurred during that time, and that is what they intend to convey in their debut album. And they do it with complete conviction, and therein lies the great strength of the LP. It sounds good, yes, but you believe it. There is honesty.

In other words, Lights Out is a love letter to electronic music from these two Brits, intertwined with their love for songs and melodies, sometimes thunderous, sometimes mental, sometimes longing, and occasionally lively and happy. The mixture is a combination of progressive melodic techno that at times unabashedly embraces synthpop in compositions that are not very lengthy. Their first single, 'My Desire', set the tone for this and that is why it is the track chosen to open the album.

It is followed by 'Identify This', which is pure fantasy. Here, one can feel that influence of the 90s with a rave sound from the English countryside, but with a dreamy melodic touch. It's the continuation of The MFA sound that we've missed for so long. Something that stretches out but with a different point of view in 'Bear Likes To Rave', undoubtedly the track that excites me the most on the album. A song that gives you a revitalizing energy and euphoria, although its abrupt ending may cut short the dreamy vibe it exudes.

'Girl Ahead' is a vocal track that is only found in the digital version of the album, with Rhys Evans taking on vocal duties. It has a poppy edge to avoid any pigeonholing. On the other hand, we have 'Freedom24', with a synthetic Hi-NRG melodic line for the most roguish and nocturnal track of the album, but the journey continues with 'Lammas Day', a powerful and hypnotic track that draws influences from the legendary 'Pacific State' by 808 State.

The second part of the album consists of 'Warehouse,' an atmospheric melodic track full of tension between the twisting melodic sequences with the 303 while in the background, we have some presenters talking about acid house. A pretty mental and penetrating track. To release serotonin, we have the surprising 'The Snapping Branch,' the most mutant track on the album and is a mood in itself with its beginning, middle, and end. It radiates happiness and good vibes. Something that's also extracted from 'You Make Me Smile,' the third vocal track on the album with Rhys Evans as the protagonist in a very bright synthpop echo.

The closing couldn't come in any other way than with 'Lights Out,' another standout track on the album that has a melancholic touch that hits home. They couldn't have picked a better track to put a final point on an album that's been eagerly anticipated for so long. And the wait has been worthwhile because this is an extremely appealing album. They have taken their time, but time is never lost when you are gifted with wonders like this one.'

Originally published here in Spanish.

No comments: