Eugh. The Masquerade: four quintessentially American adolescents who have grabbed the wrong end of the stick and refuse to refute their grip. If you can hold back the overwhelming natural instinct to turn off their debut E.P Home Is Where You Make It and hurriedly delete every trace of it from your computer then I take my hat off to you. It’s such an unrewarding listen it’s almost offensive. In fact it is rather saddening that the lifeless, saccharine and nasal drivel that The Masquerade purveys even constitutes as pop-punk. C’mon guys, sure pop-punk is supposed to exist within a certain comfort zone, but Home Is Where You Make It remains devoid of any charm, soul or value. Milo Goes To College is obviously lost on these guys.
For starters, the E.P boasts a production so sanitised the producer may as well have thrown a bucket of bleach over the entire mix and scrubbed until his hands were raw. A radio-primed sheen is overbearing, hyper-editing having flattened the sonic plain into a bland miasma of triggered drums and a perpetual nasal-bleating from the vocalist that makes Tom Delonge sound downright gruff in comparison. Their apparent ambition: a sanitised amalgamation of generic pop/punk riddled with an astounding array of clichés, delivered thick and fast until the tracks border on boorish parody.
Even after some frantic searching, any originality or notion of idiosyncratic micro-nuance remains defiantly absent. It seems The Masquerade are intent on toeing a generic line, condemning themselves to the grand honour of acting as support band to others who peddle the exact same cliché-core piffle, yet manage to execute with aeons more style and substance than these four Nickelodeon-styled lads. Pithy major key breakdowns are scattered across the arrangements, watered-down and lifeless; carrying all the punch of a Steven Hawking right hook, despite the staggering array of plug-ins and effects that no doubt have been thrown on the mix.
Opening track ‘The Weekend’ could easily soundtrack the closing credits to a direct-to-video American Pie spin off, its chorus hook of “Let’s make this last forever” acting as a not so subtle nod/rip-off/pastiche of Blink 182’s ‘First Date’, albeit minus the any ounce of humour. It’s mall rat pop-punk, where the entire ‘punk’ label is applied with the upmost nominalism, manifesting solely in a selection of ill-advised tattoos and facial piercings. Even the hooks fail to reel in interest with even the slightest degree of catchiness. Quite simply, this is lame pop music masquerading as punk – even a token pinch-squeal or “mosh” part fails to lift Home Is Where You Make It from being a horrid and tepid excuse for a record with a lyrical array that extends no further than variations on having a really fun weekend.
The Masquerade, aka My First Pop-Punk Band. Gloriously awful stuff.
1 out of 5 high fives!