Motorifik - Secret Things

Tom Reed 28/10/2010

Rating: 4.5/5

Phil Kay, mainman for Mancunian experimentalists Working For A Nuclear Free City, is obviously not content with releasing one album of restlessly inventive electronic pop in a year. Teaming up with French songwriter Idrisse Khelfi, Kay quickly follows up WFANFC's Jojo Burger Tempest record with this new side project.

Kay has cited a strange reference point as being an influence on this album - Nas' Illmatic, a staple of mid 90's rap that Kay claims he was “struck by how concise it was. It forced me to cut our album down to its essence - a sort of twisted cinematic pop record.”

While there isn't any obvious gritty hip-hop influence here, Kay hits the nail on the head with his description of Motorifik's sound. Like fellow Mancs Engineers, Motorifik deal in big, towering melody and melancholy. But what separates this album is the contrast between moodiness and sudden about turns in style and atmosphere. This is most obvious on the short instrumental A Vision, which is 100 seconds of surfy guitar and energetic beats that breaks up the more expansive tracks nicely.

The Cause is irresistible power-pop , sounding not unlike Doves' Black and White Town, with a Motown rhythm section and some excellent movie score string melodies. Opener Secret Things is driven by urgent guitar and big, wall of sound percussion straight from the Spector school of production. Another “interlude” track, Nameless Colour, is reminiscent of Radiohead's Faust Arp, but with a much more optimistic feel to Kay's vocal, while penultimate track Sleep Forever has a lush summery feel which contrasts nicely with the chorus lyric - “I wish I could, wish I could sleep forever.”

These songs are more direct than those of Kay's day job band, but nothing is lost - in fact, this brevity helps the quality of the songs shine through throughout this record. Here's hoping Kay and Khelfi find more time away from their main projects to work together - it's a partnership that bears some very interesting fruit indeed.

Release date: 15/11/2010