The Very Best - MTMTMK

Returning with renewed impetus
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The laidback warmth of 2009's 'Warm Heart Of Africa' caught many ears with its Afrobeat-tinged pop and utter lack of cynicism. Sounding like music made for the love of music, British production duo Radioclit - Etienne Tron and Johan Hugo - paired up with Malawi’s Esau Mwamwaya, roping in MIA and a slither of Vampire Weekend, to produce one of that summer’s most distinctive records. Three years on, with Tron having disbanded Radioclit and headed to France, Hugo and Mwamwaya return with renewed impetus and a quest for a bigger sound. Some of the crunching, electronic beats on show here have much in common with today’s chart-shagging R&B heavyweights and, at times, they serve to smooth over the rough, distinctive and hugely endearing edges that were so successful on the debut.

Production is meticulous, but a little faceless. The drifting ‘Bantu’ and ‘Nkango’ provide welcome relief, wafting dreamily across the speakers, while the mid-paced ‘I Wanna Go Away’ sashays flirtatiously around a synthetic bass line. But, when the frankly forgettable ‘Come Alive’ arrives, the image of an overenthusiastic gym instructor encouraging whoops whilst lifting those knees becomes hard to shake. While it might not possess the anodyne lyrics of generic chart mush, the similarities are disturbingly discernible. Thankfully, such moments are in the minority and the brooding dubby delight ‘Mghetto’ soon follows, peeling back the gloss and finally taking the band’s sound in a genuinely new direction. Ultimately, a little more judicious cherry-picking is needed than when playing the still magnificent debut.

7/10

Words by GARETH JAMES

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