If youíre familiar with Wisconsinís Masked Intruder, youíll 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 werenít 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 bandís latest offering contains an assortment of these irreverent stalker-style jams, in addition to coverage of their adventures in petty crime. Itís 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, thereís an endearing quality in lyrics like, "In a world of nightmares youíre a sweet, sweet dream / Just about the prettiest thing that Iíve ever seen."
"How Do I Get to You" tells the classic tale of an ill-fated loveĖnot only one-sided, but further prevented by incarcerationĖwith 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 canít charm a lady with a knife / But that sucks cause thatís 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.
Itís clear that Masked Intruder have been practicing their harmonies while behind bars, showcased on several of the albumís tracks. In particular, the harmonies scattered throughout "Hello Beautiful" complement the songís peppy charm perfectly, backing up Blue as he dejectedly sings, "I can tell just by the look thatís in your eyes / That you donít consider this a nice surprise / Finding me here in your house."
Melodically pleasing track "Heart Shaped Guitar" features Mixtapesí Maura Weaver as the goaded voice of Blueís 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 ĎEm Up," which chronicles the bandís passion for armed robbery. "Stick ĎEm 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 whatís 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 heís got a knife, motherfucker; itís a switchblade.
Masked Intruderís first full-length release combines elements conducive to producing a successful pop punk recordĖthe 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). Itís easy to question the longevity of Masked IntruderĖa band built on noveltyĖbut love or loathe the gimmick, their melodies are undeniably joyful. These masked miscreants can stalk me any time.