Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Review: Masked Intruder - Masked Intruder

Masked Intruder
Masked Intruder

"When you're right, you're right.
And I know it cause I've seen it all my life.
That you're right, that you just can't charm a lady with a knife.
But that sucks, cause it's all I know how to do..."

2012 has been a pretty solid year, music wise. Tons of bands, from rookies to veterans have put out tons of amazing releases. If you're into to punk, in all its myriad forms, you've had an absolute embarrassment of riches to choose from since January.

Unfortunately, it was all for naught. I have found my goddamn record of the year.

Masked Intruder, straight outta Madison, WI, play pop punk in the Ramones worshipping, Screeching Weasel/The Queers sense of the word. They add to the formula a dose of 50's style pop vocal harmonies and serve the whole thing up polished to a glistening shine. Musically, the band is more than competent. I'd go so far as to call them exemplary, in fact. This isn't a style that strikes me as particularly challenging, but it's always good to hear and band that has it down as well as MI.

Where this band makes a leap from "solid and respectable" to "staggeringly awesome" is in there songwriting and presentation. You see, Masked Intruder are bunch of creeps, stalkers and armed robbers. They take the stage in brightly colored balaclavas and adopt color coded pseudonyms. They're just as likely to wait for you down an alley to steal your wallet as they are to wait outside your house to sing you a love song. Whether you want them outside of your house is really none of their concern. They just throw on their multicolored ski masks and spill their love all over your lawn.

Of course, this is all very tongue and cheek. The weird disconnect between the fast, poppy sound of the songs and the darkness of the lyrics is jarring. But once you get on board, it's about the most fun you can have without duct tape and a tire iron. And that's where shit starts to get a little bit meta. Pop punk songs about unrequited love are always a wee bit creepy. All Masked Intruder does is push the whole thing to its logical, but outlandish conclusion. And they do it in the most infectious and endearing way possible.

Consider the a capella opening to "Wish You Were Mine:"

"All I want to say to you,
Is I wish you were mine.
All I want to do to you,
Is everything all the time..."

That's a creepy as shit thing to say. But when you back it with doo wop style vocal harmonies and have Intruder Blue sing it longingly and passionately, its more or less impossible to resist. And that is the trick, really. This is a record you need to hear to truly get your head around. That's not because it's super complex, but because it's undeniable charm lies in its simplicity.

I also want to give a shout out to "Stick 'em Up," witch is less about being a creepy stalker weirdo and more about, well, robbing people. It has probably the best sing along part on the record:

"Stick 'em up!
Stick 'em up!
Stick 'em up!
I got a knife motherfucker!
Stick 'em up!"

Now that’s a chorus!

If I have a complaint, it's that my favorite song from the 7", "ADT Security," didn't find it's way to the LP. That EP is still out there to be heard though. So check that out as well. It’s totally worth it.

Bottom line, if you have any affection for pop punk. And I mean pop punk in the BEST way possible. You'd be cheating yourself to not give this band a shot. I just caught them opening for Teenage Bottlerocket a few nights ago and it was instantly one of my top five live sets of the year. In fact, I'm gonna leave you with a paraphrase of my favorite piece of stage banter of 2012:

"If any of the ladies of Toronto are looking to fall in love, we'll be waiting for you in various alleys around the city. It's like an Easter egg hunt! Except the eggs are looking for you!"

Like I said: Record of the year.

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