With the likes of the patriotic Huw Stephens and now Jen Long being a vibrant and influential force inside Radio One, do you think there’s now a decent possibility that you will earn a beneficial bit of playlisting if you’re a half decent indie rock band and you happen to come from Wales? Well, perhaps Masters In France, who don’t actually come from their namesake’s Gallic nation, but in fact from Bangor in Wales, are a good example of this Radio escalation.
Although they’ve been together since 2009, having gradually attracted a significant batch of early adopters, such as Huw Stephens, it is in 2011 that they’re setting up for the full scale launch of singles. Having had spot appearances on mainstream Radio One shows last year, it’s with January’s single, Mad Hatter, that the ball has begun rolling. It’s an encouraging tune, with a pulse that builds up throughout it’s three and half minutes. A clean bassline kicks it off as Owain Jones plucks it like a beat, before the other layers are cleverly folded on top of it, eventually resulting in a tune that sharpens it’s knives at every turn.
Little Girl starts with a rousing beat that’s reminiscent of a Snow Patrol entrance, before the gear changes into something that sounds like the missing tune from the 1990s Liverpudlian pop hit writers, Space. Unfortunately it suffers badly from a bout of it’s own dullness, particularly when repeating the refrain “on holiday” time after time, which, rather than taking us away to fonder memories, simply reminds us, rather appropriately, of rainy days visiting Wales. Like Space and Snow Patrol, it’s all a bit wet, but thankfully there’s still enough intricate skill on display, particularly with the guitars, to keep your attention from simply staring out of the car window.
The track Control feels a like a coil ready to release, in a well-wound build up. It’s a one-paced work of patience that ultimately fails to release, staying true to the song title by refusing to let go of it’s own self-imposed limitations. Sadly it therefore lacks a final pay off, but once again shows off a sense of design and a collective mastery of their instruments
The tune Greyhounds is the complete opposite, as we finally witness them at full pace. With their foot firmly on the throttle they enter the rockier ends of the indie spectrum and it feels more enjoyable for the ride. It’s with their next single, AI (Artificial Inches), out on 30th May on their own label, Bone Dry Records, you finally come across a tune that combines their energy and their ability to pen a well-constructed pop song. It riffs away fearlessly, with the guitars taking centre stage, before you reach the clap-along chorus.
You can catch them on tour throughout the UK in May, including a slot at Radio One’s Big Weekend. In trying to melt all the genres together, from the roughness of We Are Animal‘s rock, to the choruses of Space’s pop, to the brainless anthems of Snow Patrol’s indie, it feels like a bit of Radio One alchemy is at hand here and it’s obviously worked for them so far. However, mainstream appeal is rarely a sign of quality, quite the opposite in fact, but with the skills and well-structured songs on offer we sincerely hope that their best bits are used as the vehicle to deliver the promise. (MB)
MASTERS IN FRANCE - AI
MASTERS IN FRANCE – MAD HATTER