Friday, August 10, 2012

Love Songs for the Criminal:

Dressed in ski masks and armed with instruments, Masked Intruder blends law-breaking and pop punk to craft songs of romance, unrequited love and petty wrongdoing. Drop the shiv, grab some toilet wine and crank up the radio.
Love Songs for the Criminal
Masked Intruder's S/T Debut / Album Review
August 10
by Chris Homa
Love Songs for the Criminal
Masked Intruder's S/T Debut / Album Review
Drops Aug. 14 on Red Scare
Words By Chris Homa
“Is it because of my mask, or just because I’m brandishing a knife? Why don't you love me in real life?”

So sings Masked Intruder on their self-titled debut. Named for their respectively colored ski masks, the group consists of intruders Blue, Green, Yellow and Red. As the above lyrics imply, the band combines criminal imagery – such as masked intruding – with the heartache and affection already ingrained in their pop punk sound. Is it silly? Of course. But it’s also infectious.

A letter-by-letter chant of the group’s moniker initiates the album, and then the guitar kicks in. The first true track off the debut is “25 to Life”, a driving song that positively compares love to a prison sentence. It’s by far the best song on the album, with chugging guitars that recall a pop punk more reminiscent of the Descendants, a leading call-and-response between vocals and guitar, and above all, a fun and catchy chorus.

The rest of the record plays out in similar fashion, though Masked Intruder ups the pop in places. One of the album’s strengths, however, is that it manages to diversify its dozen tracks. The band deserves its cut of credit, as it manages to overcome pop punk’s greatest pitfall: over-repetition. There’s “Unrequited Love”, with its heartbroken backing rhythm; “How Do I Get To You”, with its a capella intro; and “Stick ‘Em Up”, with its harder, loveless sound. In no way do they stray far from the pop punk formula – this isn’t Sandinista! or anything – but the band does work well within its boundaries, making each track distinguishable.

Overall, the album has a great flow with no bumps and some major highlights. Besides the previously mentioned “25 to Life” and “Stick ‘Em Up”, there’s “Hello Beautiful”, “Breakin’”, and “Heart Shaped Guitar”, which features a humorous duet between a stalker and his reluctant stalkee. And like all good punk rock, Masked Intruder’s self-titled album is short, with twelve tracks totaling about thirty minutes. Most songs don’t overstay their welcome, besides maybe “Why Don’t You Love Me In Real Life”, making for great replay value. There’s nothing like looping a two-minute song for twenty.

What the band really has going for it, though, is its shtick. The masks, the allusions to crime – they all add an important layer to a skilled, but otherwise standard and oft-repeated pop punk sound. And by working this theme into the lyrics of nearly every song on the album, it becomes more than just a gimmick. Plenty of groups work well enough without seizing on a specific, tangible identity, but then you have the Misfits and the Aquabats of the world who use a particular imagery to create their songs and enhance their performances. Their identity makes their music unique.

Masked Intruder’s debut is somewhere on the line, edging between a good pop punk record and a unique pop punk record. It’s not groundbreaking, nor is it Love Songs for the Retarded. But, just maybe, it could be Love Songs for the Criminal.

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Stream Masked Intruder's album while it's up, and at the very least check out "25 To Life".

Like what you hear? Then head over to Red Scare and lay down some buck! Don't like it? Then don't buy nothing!
Posted on August 10, 2012

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and don't be a dick. thanks