Masked Intruder - III (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Masked Intruder

III (2019)

Pure Noise

Masked Intruder have never shied away from a heavy pop influence, but on III, they dive in head first, delivering cotton candy choruses over distorted guitars.

First single “No Case” is traditional MI fodder with its criminal themes and modern pop punk sound. But with the exception of a few songs near the tail end of III, that sound is peppered in. “Mine All Mine” has a heavy Buddy Holly influence while “All of My Love” features a giant, hair metal guitar solo. “Just So You Know” is a nice blend – grade-A MI with bigger guitars and a twinkly synth in the bridge. They literally sing “doo-wop, doo-wop” on “Please Come Back to Me.” Intruder Blue’s vocals have never been cleaner or turned up. And it sounds great, often coming across like the Gimme Gimmes circa Take a Break.

Clearly producer Roger Lima (Less Than Jake) and co-producer Mike Kennerty (The All-American Rejects) had a hand in the cleaner production, no strangers to getting glossier as their bands grew. Most notably, the songwriting has taken a giant leap forward and the music has adapted to that. Yes, there are plenty of criminal-esque lyrics: “Aside from the ski mask, what would the difference be? You may as well kick him out and take the chance on me!” is a killer line. The Intruders clearly care about the mythology that goes into their albums, but it’s when they thread that wordplay into resonating choruses that everything truly clicks. “We could get the money and we could get away, but you better kiss me now, just in case” is a great example of this. There’s plenty of double entendre to sink into, and you’ll be able to read deeper into it as these songs stay stuck in your head.

It makes complete sense that Masked Intruder wouldn’t release III on Red Scare or Fat Wreck. Those influences are there, but Masked Intruder is expanding, to great effect. I’m curious to see how this impacts their fan base because, while it is poppier, almost bubblegum in some cases, there may not be another band that could pull this off, constantly balancing pop punk and doo wop, reeking of cheesiness and earnest.

III sees Masked Intruder veering further from their original sound, but it also shows four Intruders who clearly care about their craft. It’s fun, it’s catchy, and, more than any other MI release, it reaches beyond pop punk.