Masked Intruder

Love and Other Crimes EP

Written by: HES on 07/09/2016 13:14:12

I started falling in love with Masked Intruder as I was doing my prep work for Groezrock 2015, where the band was playing. I am still not sure if it was the infectious combination of punk and surf rock melodies, or the witty, intelligent jokes on being ‘criminals’ placed in your average American teen flick setting that finally convinced me to check out their show. Since then our love affair has been cemented through two real-life meetings, first at Groezrock and later at BETA in Copenhagen, not to mention countless dreamy listens on Spotify on the beaches, fields and bars of Copenhagen. Masked Intruder became one of those bands all of my friends would be into for a summer — but did our love last through the winter? Let's just say my infatuation has been tested — recently by the band's new EP "Love and Other Crimes".

"Love and Other Crimes" is the band’s first release on Pure Noise Records, which seems to have replaced their previous label home, Fat Wreck Chords. This missing stamp of approval has also meant that the release has flown a bit under the radar. And Masked Intruder should probably be thankful of that. First off, "Love and Other Crimes" fails miserably at what Masked Intruder otherwise has become known for: the tongue-in-cheek humor. That is not to say that the personas of the band have changed; they’re still the four balaclava-clad, Jersey-accented boys of the last two LPs — they’re just not as funny as they used to be. The lyrics have grown uninspired and hence un-funny. I guess this fate was to be expected of a band that has based its entire career on humour — at some point you run out of jokes. That the band has even managed to keep the jokes coming for two full albums is a feat in itself. But lethargy is here, and it is draining the band fast. The weird effect of this is that the storyteller of the lyrics starts to become hard to relate to and coarse, which is a long way from the goofy burglar of "Stick 'Em Up".

Musically, the band experiments with different sounds breaking away from the doo-wops and ah-ah-ahs with a more classic rock sound on the opener, "Take What I Want". But the band quickly returns to the style they are known for with "First Star Tonight”, again hopelessly running on the fumes of the same narrative as "Why Don't You Love Me In Real Life" or "Heart Shaped Guitar" (both off their debut "Masked Intruder”). The closest thing we get to an actual joke is a sad ”Make her eyes beam like the sun, deeper in color than a new pair of Chucks”. Next up is an equally uninspired doo-wop song, "Still Always On My Mind”, and lastly a hooky power-ballad in the form of "If Only". The narratives of the three last picks seem to melt together into one sappy love song that would, if not written by Masked Intruder, be alarmingly full of platitudes. The problem is, that the abundance of bromides and the lack of ‘funny’ makes you sit back and actually dissect the musical merit of Masked Intruder's compositions. And they're just not that impressive, when you of course look past their divine talent for writing a hook that will be vaulted into your brain chamber forever. Vocalist ‘Intruder Blue’ even seems retracted in his vocal stylings, and the arrangement is bland on most tracks. The only song really managing to stick out by grazing the qualities of former releases is the temperamental “Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt”.

Overall it's pretty hard to understand why the band made this release. If Masked Intruder wanted to continue their formula of success, it seems they spent far less time on it this time around. If they wanted to change their sound up as "Take What I Want" slightly insinuates, then why keep the rest of the tracks in the style of former releases? If the purpose is to assure fans that the joke is not over, then why not make the joke more powerful than ever rather than rest on the laurels of jokes already made? From a band that seems to have been dominated by such a clear vision up until now, "Love and Other Crimes" sounds like b-sides or stock versions of the real deal.


Download: Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt, If Only
For The Fans Of: Teenage Bottlerocket, Beach Boys, The Dopamines

Release date 08.07.2016
Pure Noise

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