Masked Intruder - M.I. (Cover Artwork)

Masked Intruder

Masked Intruder: M.I.M.I. (2014)
Fat Wreck Chords

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
(others by this writer | submit your own)

With their familiar police siren wail, Masked Intruder welcome you to their sophomore LP, the not–so–creatively–titled M.I.. It tears into the predictable Queers–via–Ramones furious downpicked riffs, and some poppy–as–shit vocals about being beaten up by the.
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With their familiar police siren wail, Masked Intruder welcome you to their sophomore LP, the not–so–creatively–titled M.I.. It tears into the predictable Queers–via–Ramones furious downpicked riffs, and some poppy–as–shit vocals about being beaten up by the cops. It's what's to be expected.

But who the fuck cares– At this point, if you're not sick of their jokes and sugary vocals, you're ready for plenty more. You need more tunes to sing and clap along with, because, like me, you spun their self–titled debut into the ground. You know every word, every cymbal crash, and you air–guitar on your outer thigh during every palm–muted section. With M.I. the quartet of Wisconsinite ski–masked criminals and longing loverboys give us another set of the poppiest of pop punk down to the once–again 13–song tracklist. They still have their all black outfits with moniker color–coordinating Chucks on, they still love the ladies they can't have, they still want some pizza and still wanna take your hard–earned money to buy said pizza.

But who the fuck cares– The haters that just love to hate– The crusty old punks– The pussy indie rockers (well, other than me)– Fuck them all! MI tear through pop punk jam after pop punk jam, including the previously released single "The Most Beautiful Girl." It was somewhat of a surprise for Fat to introduce the album with this song, since it doesn't mention a single misdemeanor and is just about admiring a certain lady, not even in a creepy stalker way. What gentlemen! But it's up to the high standard of catchiness set by their debut, so who the fuck cares.

The biggest selling point of Masked Intruder for me was the occasional doo–wop, '60s pop and Motown influences peeking through in their backing vocals. This is what separates them from all of the other Ramonescore bands back to the '90s heyday of Screeching Weasel; these aren't just "woah oh"s. There is a lead and two backup singers, Supremes style, Temptations style (minus one guy), Four Seasons–style (minus three). The vocals are key in this band and there are tons of three–part harmonies on this thing and they do it damn well for a bunch of Midwestern petty thieves. "When I Get Out" is a perfect example, and is the track I'm most addicted to at the moment. Starting with a tom–riding beat and shaker to ride through the guitar stabs, Intruder Green and Yellow supply the title in close harmony, continuing to back up Blue through the verse. When the chorus hits, they sustain thirds under the lead, and keep the tune at the absolute peak of sing–along–itude. After I force my wife to listen to this all summer, she'll be sure to back me as I take the lead on car trips up north while moving into our new house. "I'm gonna find the fink that put me away / Give him a piece of my mind. / I'm havin' ice cream every day / And pizza every night." Classic Masked Intruder.

There are no six–minute experimental, multi–movement rock opera forays. No one wants that from Masked Intruder. But we do get some new minor tricks, notably those spotlighting those '60s vocal stylings like in "Almost Like We're Already in Love." Aside from the shaker and snaps, it's only vocals. Barbershop quartet shit here, people. It's another love song and the harmonies are spot on but they execute vocal maneuvers no other pop punk group would dare attempt –– V7 chords to hang that sweet lead note out there before it resolves– Damn, son. They also grab the acoustic guitar on closer "Locked Up and Lonely" but of course it shifts to huge overdriven chords soon enough as the drums kick it out. "Weirdo" goes 6/8 and reminds me a ton of Nerf Herder, one of my favorite of the nerdy '90s pop–punk acts, with it's self–deprecating–as–all–get–out lyrics.

M.I. keeps the distortion up and tempos quick for 95 percent of the set. Like I said, little rewards are thrown in, another one being the brief a cappella break in "Saturday Night Alone"'s last refrain and while it is glossed up with some shimmering chorus effect, it sounds so damn smooth and pretty you can't complain. They make sure to hit you with straight–up blitzkrieg sub–two–minute jams like "Hey Girl" and "I Don't Want to Say Goodbye to You Tonight" to confirm that, hells to the yes they are deeply indebted to the Ramones.

M.I. will satisfy all Masked Intruder superfans, no doubt. They keep their best punk rock elements but give just enough extra attention to their defining backing vocals and break up the set with just two brief dips into gentler romantic–dude stuff. Guaranteed to be a Punknews favorite and my most–played album of the summer. Haters gonna hate –– yeah it's more of the same but just as good (maybe even better–) so who the fuck cares–


People who liked this also liked:
Masked Intruder - Masked IntruderThe Flatliners - CavalcadeRed City Radio - TitlesThe Lawrence Arms - MetropoleThe Menzingers - Rented WorldThe Clash - London CallingThe Menzingers - On the Impossible PastAgainst Me! - As The Eternal CowboyAgainst Me! - Searching For A Former ClarityFrank Turner - England Keep My Bones

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
KungPowza (August 21, 2014)

This will probably end up being my favorite album of 2014. Great from start to finish.

you_are_a_loser (June 28, 2014)

"I have a sneaking suspicion that fat Mike does not like this band"

Hates them so much that he signed them to Fat Wreck Chords. Checks out.

naymtaken (June 10, 2014)

To be fair I could only get through the first 3 tracks, awful lyrics. I have a sneaking suspicion that fat Mike does not like this band

paulrulzdood (May 29, 2014)

best of the 3 reviews for this album punknews put up. by far.

and props for comparing weirdo to nerf herder instead of weezer like the other 2. i think either comparison is fair, but you only get punx points for a nerf herder mention.

the album is great. same as the last one, just tighter, improvment of their core sound. and what this reviewer said. all that too.


greg0rb (May 28, 2014)

ALSO lol @ your first comment "In quickly skimming this article"

Really thinkin' it through for sure, giving it serious thought before you go on some wordy attack to show off your vocabulary.

greg0rb (May 28, 2014)

What if I say, "Relax, don't do it. When you wanna go to it"?

Scruffy (May 28, 2014)

I give. By using the "You're overthinking it!" response to my criticism, it ensures that anything I type afterward will seem crazy. Maybe someday we could have a discussion about this, but it's not going to be today. Can I at least point out that just because someone takes something more seriously than you do does not mean they are taking it too seriously?

Side note: Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not EVER tell anyone to "relax" unless you want to really piss them off. It is never helpful. It is not constructive. It never resolves a disagreement, but it often incites more.

greg0rb (May 28, 2014)

Scruffy, you're overthinking it. The "who the fuck cares?" thing was the THEME of the review. A reoccurring joke. I'm excited about the record and I showed it.

A look behind the curtain: Mark, Tori and I all talked about our general feelings on the album to be sure we didn't right the same review or give the same score. I LOVE this record, but I also amped up the feel of my writing to take the "fanboy" angle on this thing, knowing that Tori was more critical and Mark was in the middle. I am a fanboy, so it's not fiction, but I did go a little more berserk than I might have if I were the only review posted.

To quote Aziz: Like it... Love it... GOTTA HAVE IT! Relax dude, I meant no offense to anyone.

Scruffy (May 28, 2014)

In quickly skimming this article, I can spot an ad hominem attack and an indulgence in false dichotomy. Do you really need to insult anyone who dares express dissent and insinuate that any criticism of this band is due to them not being Rush in order to convince yourself that your opinion is correct?

What if the criticisms are valid? What if them being valid doesn't mean your opinion is wrong, but that there are other perspectives you could learn from (and vice-versa)? What if these other perspectives might contain some insight you didn't consider? What if the way an album makes you feel doesn't excuse it from deeply-rooted problems, both artistic and sociological? What if people are allowed to have problems with the impact an album has and the way it is received and treated, even if you don't care? What if the things we support as a society say a lot about who we are, and, just because you disagree with what someone else thinks that means, it does not make their opinion invalid or their judgment worthless?

It's bad enough that I have to put up with everyone treating this band like they're the second coming of the Ramones. That IS everyone's choice to make. But I hate this trend (which I'm seeing more and more of lately in punk rock) of chastising any dissent,and mocking anyone who dares have real problems with something, putting words in their mouth that you can easily dismiss rather than listening to what they have to say. You can disagree with me, and I with you, and we can talk about it until the heat death of the universe, but the moment you pull the "Haterz gonna hate" bullshit of denying my right to even have an opinion if it does not lock in step with the prevailing public one, you lose the right to expect respect for yours.

rubikspube (May 27, 2014)

Good review. I couldn't read it all because I have things to do this week, but it seems like you got things right for a great and fun band and an awesome album.

torgo (May 27, 2014)

Very defensive review!

Phantom_maggot (May 27, 2014)

I enjoy this band far more after seeing them at PRB this past weekend. However, some of the lyrics are simply cringe worthy.

phillypunk (May 27, 2014)

Ah Ok not bad, not great, but ok.

faithisforfools (May 27, 2014)


misterspike (May 27, 2014)

This has been in my car all weekend. Summer soundtrack starts now.

greg0rb (May 27, 2014)

Thanks, man! I'm totally blasting this on my way home today too.

77punker (May 27, 2014)

Excellent review Greg, and I'm with you every step of the way....as my moniker implies I'm a 55 year-old dude who never grew up and loves the shit out of this new disc....after a 3 day weekend binge can't wait to get the hell of the office and crank up MI on the way home....

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