If you're familiar with Wisconsin's Masked Intruder, you'll know exactly what to expect from their self-titled full-length debut. If not, just try to remember that guy or girl you met briefly at a party but weren't really into; then imagine said guy/girl showing up at your house at 3 a.m., wearing a brightly colored balaclava and serenading you with a catchy pop punk ballad. This is how the members of Masked Intruder spend their evenings, and like all legitimate musicians, they share their life experiences through song. The band's latest offering contains an assortment of these irreverent stalker-style jams, in addition to coverage of their adventures in petty crime. It's all in good deranged fun though.
With a hyper catchy melody and prison sentence-inspired title, album opener "25 To Life" sets the tone for the rest of the record. Despite the syrupy nature of the song, there's an endearing quality in lyrics like, "In a world of nightmares you're a sweet, sweet dream / Just about the prettiest thing that I've ever seen."
"How Do I Get to You" tells the classic tale of an ill-fated love-not only one-sided, but further prevented by incarceration-with simple yet effective harmonies layered on top of an infectious melody. Lyrically, the song is more indicative of the record as a whole, with lead vocalist Blue lamenting, "You just can't charm a lady with a knife / But that sucks cause that's all I know how to do."
"Unrequited Love" tugs at the heart strings, with melancholy lyrics like, "Every single day is lonelier than the last / Cried so many tears that I had to wring out my mask." The song fuses the fundamentals of pop punk with a throwback to the '50s, and a short but slick guitar solo contributes to making the song an album highlight. Similarly, "Am I Only Dreaming" recalls the essence of timeless pop songs, with guitarist, Green, and bass player, Yellow (AKA Orange), providing doo-wop style backup vocals.
It's clear that Masked Intruder have been practicing their harmonies while behind bars, showcased on several of the album's tracks. In particular, the harmonies scattered throughout "Hello Beautiful" complement the song's peppy charm perfectly, backing up Blue as he dejectedly sings, "I can tell just by the look that's in your eyes / That you don't consider this a nice surprise / Finding me here in your house."
Melodically pleasing track "Heart Shaped Guitar" features Mixtapes' Maura Weaver as the goaded voice of Blue's affections, with the two melding vocally to create a dynamic back-and-forth. Another standout on the record, "Wish You Were Mine," once again blends doo-wop and pop punk, with an a capella introduction that delves into a clean guitar riff and lively beat.
In between uptempo songs about stalking unsuspecting females, Masked Intruder changes pace with "Stick 'Em Up," which chronicles the band's passion for armed robbery. "Stick 'Em Up" deviates from the melodic ditties of the rest of the record and hits us with a punchy, fast-paced sound. The band takes their victim on a two-minute journey, detailing just what's about to go down. Essentially, the message we can take from the song is not to mess with these guys when they want to get paid, as Blue is the first to let us know he's got a knife, motherfucker; it's a switchblade.
Masked Intruder's first full-length release combines elements conducive to producing a successful pop punk record-the album is short, sweet and insanely fun. The lyrical absurdity can also be overlooked; performed with such sincerity, the record almost comes across as a collection of genuine love songs (and one about robbing someone at knifepoint). It's easy to question the longevity of Masked Intruder-a band built on novelty-but love or loathe the gimmick, their melodies are undeniably joyful. These masked miscreants can stalk me any time.