Matt Pryor - May Day (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Matt Pryor

May Day (2012)

Nightshoes Syndicate

Just a year after the Get Up Kids dropped their most excellent comeback record, There Are Rules, frontman Matt Pryor is back with a solo record, May Day. Combining TGUK's hooks with the acoustic, mellower vibe of Pryor's other project, the New Amsterdams, it's a nifty follow-up to Rules, and a big departure to boot. Aided by Kickstarter funds, Pryor has managed to issue back-to-back great records.

Much has been made of donating to Kickstarter. Some think it's a lazy way for bands to get other people to pay their production costs; others think it helps artists commune with their fans. I'll say this about it: In this particular instance, Kickstarter has contributed to the creation of an album I really like.

May Day is a stripped down, acoustic record. It's the kind of record that makes things like tambourines and harmonicas seem too lush. Indeed, May Day offers two kinds of back-to-basics tunes. There are the acoustic guitar ‘n' vox numbers like "Don't Let the Bastards Get You Down" and "Like a Professional," which come off like 4-track recordings. These songs have a gentle, bare quality; they're so quiet that they blot out everything else. Then there's the more arranged stuff. Songs like "As If I Could Fall in Love With You Again" and "The Lies Are Keeping Me Here" nearly sound overproduced, simply because the rest of the record is that stripped. But these songs are so infectious that it's not really all that hard transitioning.

The album as a whole is quite beautiful. For all his musical growth since Four Minute Mile, Pryor's ultimate strength remains in writing catchy songs about sad people. May Day lays this quality out in the song titles: "As If I Could Fall in Love With You Again," "Unhappy is the Only Happy That You'll Ever Be," "As Lies Go… This One is Beautiful." But Pryor consistently marries these sentiments to gorgeous hooks. May Day doesn't have a single dud among its 12 tracks. When Pryor talks about "whistling your new favorite song" on "Your New Favorite," he could easily be talking about this album.

With two full-lengths and an EP already under his belt, Pryor is crushing this decade. May Day is a shift away from the indie rock-leanings of There Are Rules and Simple Science, but it's a welcome one. This album has such a breezy, fun quality to it that it almost feels wasted being released in January. Almost.