Mastersystem – ‘Dance Music’ Review

'Free of vanity and wankery - purely for the love of having a good time'

Supergroups are usually awful, aren’t they? They’re often a conflation of muso burkes or a constellation of rock lovvies caught in the magnetic pull of their own egos. How refreshing it is to find one free from vanity and wankery: a record written purely for the love of having a good time.

Formed of Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison, his brother and F’Rabbit drummer Grant, Editors and former Yourcodenameis:milo guitarist Justin Lockey, and his brother and Minor Victories bandmate James, Mastersystem came together in Berlin to create something much like it’s Sega console namesake: simple, free of frills, nostalgic, and yet weirdly futuristic at the same time.

It’s a sound you wouldn’t file next to any of the members’ own bands, apart from maybe Lockey’s Yourcodenameis:milo past. It harks back to the star-reaching noise of Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Mogwai at their most visceral, and a lot of ’90s alt-rock – and yet it sounds like a scorchingly promising debut from a band formed yesterday.

“This is an album about drifting and feeling a little bit lost,” Hutchison told us earlier this year. “It was quite spontaneous and quick. I didn’t want to overthink things, because that’s the spirit of the music that I was given – this is music to be enjoyed and not overthought too much.”

Mission accomplished. As Hutchison sings of “bloodshot disenfranchised souls coming back to what we know” on the ballsy, post-rock rush of opener of ‘Proper Home’, they embody exactly that. This isn’t four long-toothed, established indie musicians testing your patience for their own satisfaction. ‘Dance Music’ sounds like four college teens losing their shit in a garage. Who doesn’t miss that?

You hear it on other tales of “still not having quite figured shit out in life yet“. From the smouldering brimstone of launch single ‘Notes On A Life Not Quite Lived’, the gnarly grunge onslaught of ‘The Enlightenment’, the artfully aching ‘Old Team’ and ‘Bird Is Bored Of Flying’, it’s a record driven and inspired by that shameless adolescent energy, the curiosity of going ‘fuck it, turn it up louder’.

And never more so than on album highlight ‘Waste Of Daylight’ – an angsty behemoth where walls of noise are punctuated by sweet, howling riffery and a throat-shredding growl that we’ve never heard from Hutchison before. “In the race to lose, I’m winning,” he yelps in the chorus. Funny, that. In their carefree and uncontrived approach, they’ve effortlessly made one of the best and most pleasurable listens of the year so far.