Albums — December 21, 2018 at 3:27 am

Favorite Albums of 2018: mastersystem – ‘Dance Music’

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May 10, 2018 is a date that many indie music fans will never forget. It is the day we learned that Frightened Rabbit front man Scott Hutchison said goodbye to the world. Unfortunately, we never got the opportunity to say thank you for being the best friend we needed in our most difficult times. He did, however, leave one last parting gift, which he crafted with his brother and fellow Frightened Rabbit Grant Hutchison and siblings Justin Lockey of Editors and James Lockey of Minor Victories. Together, the four formed the super-sibling rock band mastersystem. Their one album, Dance Music, is, well, a modern-rock masterpiece.

Opener “Proper Home” leaves no doubt that Dance Music is meant for cavernous rock halls. The stormy fervor of “Notes on a Life Not Quite Lived” is the closest thing to a Frightened Rabbit track on the record. It roars like a full-throttle engine that spews reverb-heavy dueling guitars and propulsive percussion. Scott’s lyrics are poignant and heavy, as he sings of “lessons learned”, being “lost in a deep abyss”, and finding “hope in hopelessness”.

mastersystem go full bore The Pogues with a heavy dose of A Place To Bury Strangers on “The Enlightenment”. As Grant’s militaristic drumming leads the way, Scott poignantly tackles his own existence and purpose. A similar introspective tone percolates on “Must Try Harder”, which wails with the ferocity of Smashing Pumpkins in their prime. A moment of brief reprieve occurs on the pulsating, politically-driven “Teething”. Meanwhile, a more melodic approach is adopted on the grungy “Bird is Bored of Flying”, which highlights Scott’s philosophical songwriting style. As his band mates quietly rage, he smartly confronts people’s obsession with wealth. He hollers, “We all want fire until it starts to burn”.

The album’s peak, though, is “Old Team”. It is a song for the underdog and all seeking to “get it right”. The Hutchisons’ trademark fervor is brilliantly meshed with the signature Lockey scorching depth, resulting in an epic anthem. It’s a fist-pounding, tear-down-the-walls number that will have people yelling, “Nobody fuck with me!”. These words seem apropos for mastersystem, who unleash a sonic fury reminiscent of the great alt-rock bands of the past. It’s an LP that is among the very best rock outputs of the year and one that rivals the very best of the ’90s.

Dance Music is out April 6th via Physical Education Recordings, and purchase and streaming links are here.

To review the first 25 of our Favorite Albums of 2018, click here. The final 25 of our Favorite Albums, meanwhile, is available here.

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