At it’s essence, Mastersystem is a project created solely to have fun and reconnect with the joy of being in a band again. Comprised of two musical siblings, a collaborative effort featuring Scott Hutchison and Grant Hutchison (Frightened Rabbit) and Justin Lockey (Editors), James Lockey (Minor Victories), the idea for the band came about in Berlin in 2016 when the members decided to make music together after placing it on the back burner for years.
The initial idea came after Frightened Rabbit recruited a couple of filmmakers five years ago to film their tour. These happened to be the Lockey brothers for what was a long creative relationship. When they all finally came together at the end of 2017, Justin Lockey produced what is a dark, authentic, elevating record. It may not recapture the magic of the members’ other bands, but still possesses enough quality to stand up on its own.
“I thought it would be interesting to play around with the themes of restlessness and dissatisfaction on this album, both as a counterpoint to the exuberance of the music and as an obvious reference to the angst and tension I heard in the grunge and fuzz of my teenage years. This is not the angst of a teenager, however. This is the anxiety of a man in his mid-30s, and for a lot of this record I found myself wrestling with the ways in which I am not quite doing life right, in spite of appearing to lead a relatively joyful, playful and artistic existence.” explained Grant Hutchinson.
It’s a return to their roots and back to basics as such, with a multitude of influences present such as Pixies, The Smashing Pumpkins and Mogwai. ‘Proper Home’ kicks off proceedings at a pace that never really relents- “Bloodshot disenfranchised souls coming back to what we know” is one lyric that really paints a picture of where the four men were at when making the LP.
Other highlights include the grungey ambush of ‘The Enlightenment’ and the powerful ‘Teething’. The latter’s subject matter shows a quest for youth and feeling like a child who is still developing. This adolescent energy is also present in ‘Old Team’ and the Arcade Fire-esque ‘Bird Is Bored Of Flying’, which both sound like four men playing together in a room without disregard for sound levels. Closer ‘Waste Of Daylight’ is another brilliant composition punctuated by deafening riffs as Hutchinson cries “In the race to lose, I’m winning.”
This ends an album that is a breath of fresh air in a musical landscape filled with overproduced wizardry. There are no keyboards, no electronics and it transports you back to a time when song craft carried more importance than polished production.