Masked Intruder - Under the Mistletoe [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)

Masked Intruder

Under the Mistletoe [7-inch] (2013)

Fat Wreck Chords / Red Scare

Ah, Christmas. That magical time of year when bands come together to capitalize on people's seasonal spending sprees by putting their own spin on traditionally terrible songs. Sure, we all had a good laugh at the Twisted Sister Christmas album. Some of us even appreciated the irony of Bad Religion doing Christmas covers. Call me a Grinch, but I have always thought these kinds of albums were as welcome as a hangnail and needed to be stopped. That is until the night Masked Intruder came to town with their offering.

Under the Mistletoe brings us two Christmas-themed songs from pop-punk's (allegedly) favorite incognito quartet. The songs carry on the brilliant shtick that Masked Intruder have established with all the heartbroken, criminal-themed, hook-laden catchiness you'd expect. Production levels have been stepped way up and give the songs a much cleaner, fuller feeling than their previous releases. This is most evident in the layering of the drums and backing vocals.

The title track tells the tale of the hardships faced by a lovesick home invader who wants nothing more than to love and be loved. In typical Intruder fashion, our protagonist is left alone while his (surely unwitting) lover is away for Christmas. Like a good romantic, he is willing to forgive since he knows how important she is to him, even if she doesn't. The previously mentioned production values allow the harmonies to shine through better than ever and will leave this song stuck in your head all through the holidays.

The b-side is a new take on the holiday classic "Silent Night." I was cautiously optimistic about this just being a straight-up cover, but Masked Intruder do not disappoint. As soon as the lyrics begin, all fears are alleviated as we are given an account of how these boys spend Christmas: on the run from the law. It's interesting to get insight into the class separation they experienced growing up, which motivates their holiday theft spree as they sing, "We just want to be like the rich kids/ We just want to have half of their shit." Complete with a fun holiday riff and the always welcome key change for Christ, this song is easily my favorite of the two.

What Masked Intruder have done here is perfectly deconstruct the beyond clichéd Christmas album and made it fun again. They could have very easily just copy and pasted their sound onto some holiday tunes, but that isn't their style. Instead, Masked Intruder have created an EP branded with their trademark humor and songwriting, breathing new life into well worn territory. With delightful and hilarious album art by Liz Prince that captures the spirit of this EP perfectly, there's no reason not to pick this up.