Although the Michigan-based group Mason Proper has been name dropped to me by various press folks and music-loving friends for a while now, it wasn't until their recent NYC show with Birdmonster that they really caught my ear. Their ability to balance noise and melody intrigued me, becoming the inspiration to seek out their recently re-released debut album, There Is A Moth In Your Chest.
Honestly, this is much more than a re-release. The band went back into the studio with John O'Mahoney (Emily Haines, Matt Pond PA) to give the songs a fresh coat of paint. The results for their Dovecoat Records version are impressive to say the least. Jonathan Visgr, Matt Thomson, Brian Konicek and Zac Fineberg bounce somewhere between art rock and dream pop, making for quite an enjoyable listen.
The album kicks off with the somewhat dreamy "A Chance Encounter," beginning with some bleeps and bloops which are quickly replaced by poppy drums and fuzzy guitars that alternate between passages of spaced-out quietness and punchy power pop. In this track, I am actually reminded a bit of Division Day's outstanding Beartrap Island.
One way to describe Mason Proper is quirky, but in a mighty good way. In contrast to "Encounter," "My My (Bad Fruit)" is a monster of a track, driven by a fat bass line, screaming guitars and abstract keyboard noises. This one somehow reminded me of the noisier tracks off of Blur's 13 album, at least by the fuzzed out catchy guitar jams. "Chemical Dress Eliza" shows the band pulling the tempo back just a notch, offering up a fat slice of infectious pop with a totally radio-friendly chorus. It is a bit more straight forward, yet keeps a bit of their keyboard noises in for added color.
The band gets on a caffeinated high on the snotty "Mr. Charm," switching gears to angular guitars and nasally vocals that put them in the same realm as The Rakes or Futureheads. I fucking love this track. As their sugar buzz wears off, we are led to the Postal Service-ish "I Spy." The guitars are given a rest, replaced by drum machines and keyboards. This clearly shows the diversity in their musicianship and songwriting, which continues with the beautiful, lush bit of melodic melancholy on "Life's Cornucopia"
Mason Proper may have a difficult time in deciding what genre they want to be, but that is a struggle that I hope they continue. Their constant shifting between spaced out pop, angular guitar rock, electronic beats and lush dreamy ballads is what makes them so appealing. This is a great album, and I hope it ends up in the hands of many more people with its recent nationwide re-release.