Review of Secret Things Album by Motorifik

Sometimes, names can be deceptive. Take Motorifik for example, surely an ensemble devoted to the past glories of all things krautrock if ever there were one? Of course that description couldn't be further from the truth if it tried, as this (mainly) duo actually represents the ambient pop side-project of Working For A Nuclear Free City keyboard player-cum-producer Phil Kay and Parisian singer/songwriter Idrisse Khelifi. What's more, despite the tenuous link as far as the moniker is concerned between Motorifik's expected output and WFANFC's experimental shoegaze musings, 'Secret Things' is quite possibly the most pristine pop record conceived on these shores in many moons.

Motorifik Secret Things Album

Although initially formed at the back end of 2006, Kay has had to juggle his time between Motorifik and his regular outfit meaning that 'Secret Things' has taken longer than expected to reach fruition. However, the saying "All good things come to those who wait" couldn't be more appropriately measured than here. While comparisons to the likes of Air and M83 are inevitable, 'Secret Things' exists in a time and space all of its own making, both of its creators stamping their footprints impeccably across its surreptitious veneer.

Taking elements of their sound from the more ambitious moguls of the 1960s ('Used Angel' could be Love's 'Alone Again Or' in a parallel universe for example) along with a flavour for what independent labels such as Heavenly and Creation ('Strange Weather', 'Nostalgie') perceived to be idyllic pop music some twenty years ago, Motorifik have struck a resonant balance between radio friendly classicism and audacious excursions in diversity the likes of John Barry or Joe Meek would have been proud of.

Right from the outset, 'Secret Things' makes its intentions crystal clear, the widescreen pop of its title track introducing a pastoral collage of Spectoresque emotives and Mary Chain harmonies, its paean to heartbreak ("Don't say you're sorry, don't say you love me") both distilled and challenging in equal measures. 'The Cause' continues the record's upbeat feel, taking a similar direction to that of the Boo Radleys circa 'Wake Up Boo', Khelifi delivering the immortal line "I'm like the highest mountain, no man can conquer me" during its salacious coda.

Fellow WFANFC members Gary McClure and Ed Hulme come to the fore here, guitarist McClure having a co-writing credit on this and the more dissonant 'Sleep Forever' and 'Ghosts'. Indeed, one wonders whether or not Motorifik may eventually take precedence over the dayjob, as there's undoubtedly a plethora of possibilities open for exploration in the future if 'Secret Things' is anything to go by.

At the record's close, the maudlin Beatles-like behemoth 'Flames On The Ocean', Khelifi whispers "We'll never be apart" resolutely, almost confirming Motorifik's intent to remain for the long haul. Or at least we hope that's the case. Sincerely, as 'Secret Things' is a glorious celebration of intelligent pop music many observers believed had long buried itself in the annals of yesteryear.


Dom Gourlay

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