Judging from the band picture on these guys’ Facebook, Masters of the Radio don’t take themselves too seriously. One chap is clearly visible in the band pic – a very white guy who could well have been kicked out of One Direction for being too surly, or maybe a relative of Jimmy Carr’s. He’s surrounded by the other three band members, who seem to be modelled around the ‘polyester gimp in a mix of shirts, ties, scarves, and always sunglasses’ look. There’s the polyester gimp in white, the polyester gimp in orange, and the other polyester gimp in red. And I don’t mean that disparagingly. There’s a full rainbow compliment of textile balaclavas here.
These days image is everything, I suppose, and having something original to attract attention is always a good way to go. So, what do they sound like based off that? I haven’t a fucking clue, but there’s always the names to go by. You know… Black Darksson will always sing some sort of metal. Anyone with 3 x-es in their name is either a glam-rocker or a slut. And anyone with anything misspelled is usually a rapper. So, let’s have at it.
Masters of the Radio are made up of Paul Ventux as lead vocalist, Mr Darklight on keyboards/synths, Taylor Manwo on bass, and Murphy the Destroyer (my personal favourite) on drums. I guess the only clue in there is the word synth, but in all honesty, cracking names, lads.
So, Origin of Radio opens with a track called You’ll Never Be Famous and the first thought that crossed my mind was ‘Excellent. Is it more Justice or Daft Punk?’ The second thought was a little more emphatic, sounding something like. ‘NOPE! It’s electro cheese, straight outta the 80s.’ Feel free to correct me on that 80s thing, though, and cite Kavinsky on the drive soundtrack to prove I’m wrong.
Look past the obvious fact that if this song had come out when I was a foetus, it would’ve hit number one and stayed there for about two years. It’s full of little bits and pieces you might not have noticed if you’d callously written it off. Like, for example, the Bowie-esque vocal, harping on about going extra-terrestrial with spaceships and spacesuits. Or maybe the Pet Shop Boys-style background chanting. It’s an extremely well put-together song. I dare you to listen through the chorus more than once and not smile; it’s catchy as herpes and the post-chorus synth is tastier than a new-fangled microwave dinner. Needless to say it’s not for everyone, but as far as electropop goes, this is right on the mark. It ticks all the floating neon-blue boxes.
The Drive opens up with a funky little bass riff, a synth overdub, and (if I hadn’t just written that they actually have a drummer, I’d say) drum machine. This track reminds me how far we’ve come. Oh, wait. If I was cryogenically frozen during Hasselhoff’s heyday and heard this, I’d have said throw me the fuck back in, and only take me out when this decade finally ends. Speaking of the Hoff, this clearly has to be a throwback to Knight Rider, because it does sound more than a little like the theme tune.
That aside, everything is layered in a way that makes perfect sense, there’s nothing to criticise as far as production or composition goes. I just can’t shake the overwhelming feeling that a DJ would sample this ironically as a drop in the middle of a drippy house live set.
Intermission/Coming of the Light is exactly the first part of that; an intermission. No need for analysis, unless of course, you’re wondering where they got the thriller voice-over guy.
Radio Forever is an electronic ode the radio – obviously. I don’t know if it quite matches up to Queen’s take on the same subject, but I suppose comparing Masters of the Radio to Freddy Mercury, Brian May, and the other two guys nobody knows is like saying Snoop Dogg doesn’t much resemble Tenacious D. Something does occur to me from off in the middle ground, however: Electric Six. This song sounds remarkably like it could have a holiday home on 2003’s Fire, provided it took a detour through an A-ha video first.
This final track also contains, for me, the biggest surprise of the album. I’ll put it to you this way.
Look into the future, the music’s gone away. The songs are getting cheaper and there’s no one left to pay.
These are some of the lyrics from Radio Forever. I’ll throw my hands up and say that this was the last place I expected to see something poignant. Masters of the Radio have legitimately surprised me.
In summary, there’s no doubt hipsters everywhere will be asking for their contact details for their weird ‘reverse anachronism’ parties filled with way too much coke and enough strobe lighting to put yo’ momma down, but don’t hold that against them. Origin of Radio is solid in all aspects. Granted, I’m no expert when it comes to synth/electropop, but it’s definitely not shite and I think that’s about as rousing a success any of us could have expected.
Origin of Radio was released on 18/04. You have no excuse not to buy it… unless, of course, you’re waiting for it to come up on utorrent.
Check Masters of the Radio out on Facebook in the meantime.