Masked Intruder – [Album]

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

After their first listen to Masked Intruder's self-titled debut, everyone will find themselves asking breathlessly, “Who were those masked men?” Masked Intruder is, very simply, a perfect and instantly gratifying reminder of all that was great about the “songs about girls” craze which overtook punk rock in the 1990s; strains of the instantly memorable, heart-on-their-sleeves lyric sheets that Chad Price and Bill Stevenson were writing for ALL merge perfectly with some snotty, nasal and heart-wrenching vocal melodies (just like Parry Gripp used to make – with Nerf Herder) as well as the dense and speedy attack of Chixdiggit are all pretty recognizable from the moment Masked Intruder's title track batters its way in to introduce the band before they launch into “25 To Life.”

It does need to be said that all the namedropping done at the beginning of this review (Chad Price, ALL, Parry Gripp, Chixdiggit) is actually a fishing expedition done to try and give readers an idea of what they'll hear on this album; no one really knows who plays in Masked Intruder. Living up to their name, the band appears in photos and on this album's cover with their faces hidden behind ski masks and the names given by the personnel who made the record are simply the color of the mask each member wears. That cultivated anonymity and the carefully groomed image of all the members of the band being thugs, thieves and goons carries over into the titles and lyrical fare of the songs (see “25 To Life,” “Breakin'” and “Stick 'Em Up”), but it also happens to perfectly contrast many of the other structures in the record and really give listeners a puzzle to try and decode: who is Masked Intruder really?

Regardless of the band's attempts to remain anonymous, there's no way to hide the fact that each of the thirteen songs found on their debut are rare pop-punk gems. Buzzsaw guitars cut easily through the senses of listeners as songs like “Unrequited Love,” “Heart Shaped Guitar,” “Hello Beautiful” and “I Don't Wanna Be Alone Tonight” hot-wire a host of Fifties doo wop vocal harmonies and graft them to some hard and fast guitars coupled with a bad boy character set. The results are kitschy, cutesy cool as long as listeners are okay with style dominating heavily over substance; listeners will have no trouble smiling as they sing along with Blue (check out lines like “Some people say that love is a prison/ And you're locked up whenever you're in it/ And anyway, if being locked away just meant waking up next to you everyday/ Then I wouldn't mind it” from “25 To Life”) as he merges his affinities for petty crime with love songs on par with any of those that ALL wrote back in the day, and those in the West Side Story soundtrack too. While it may sound a little hokey at first,  listeners will find themselves enjoying this contrived exercise before long.

As much fun as it is, eventually listeners will be questioning how long this act can last. Sure, the songs on Masked Intruder's debut are good, but how long can this band keep their secret and image (which is pretty important to both their songwriting and delivery) intact if the record really catches on? The truth is that they probably won't be able to and, eventually, the game will be over. When it comes, the day when Masked Intruder goes down will be unfortunate, but at least listeners will be able to enjoy this record and the idea of the band for right now.



Masked Intruder – "25 To Life" – Masked Intruder [mp3]


Masked Intruder's self-titled debut is out now. Buy it here , directly from Fat Wreck Chords.

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