Masts - Adversaries (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Adversaries (2016)

Jealous Lovers Club

I was eager to hear what else Masts had to offer upon their release of Adversaries’ lead single, “Monaghan” (streamed exclusively on this very site!). It’s a killer track that directly channels the elements I love in Signals Midwest, a current favorite of mine: it’s upbeat with plenty of melodic intricacy and is absolutely oozing with youthful energy. But when I got my copy and listened to the remaining ten songs, I felt a little cheated. ‘Why isn’t this all like that one fucking song?’ I’d entered the album hoping for a Welsh version on Light on the Lake, but Adversaries is an album that rarely stays on one channel for long.

Using post-hardcore-slanted punk as a foundation, Masts builds a sound that explores places all over the alternative map. With only an EP, 2013’s Palindromes, behind them, the jumbled styles suggests either a young band finding its “sound” or a band that doesn’t give a fuck about genre conventions. Whatever the case, it makes for an interesting, sometimes uneven, but entirely worthy listen. While “A Man Ambivalence” and “Athens” go the Signals Midwest route like “Monaghan”, the rest of the album feels like entries from multiple different bands. “Don’t Go Off” sounds like if American Football suddenly discovered distortion pedals. “We’ve Got a Message For You” and “Overhead Kick” channel Thursday in their shout-singing, reminiscent of Rickley’ best work. “Ghost World” and “Crestfallen” are hard-edged emo revival numbers. No matter where the album goes, it’s always done with precise guitar work and thunderous drums. Masts might not be focused, but they do chaos well.

Despite suffering some slightly generic and dull lyrics on occasion, despite an initial disappointing listen, despite being sonically all over the place…Adversaries really won me over. Stellar guitar parts, shifting moods, and unique songwriting make this a record that gets better with multiple listens. I’ve been lulled into linear album expectations, cause that’s what most bands do. But Masts’ all-over-the-place sound is refreshing and something you won’t hear often.