Masonic – Never Stood a Chance

Never Stood a Chance

If nothing else, the members of Masonic know how to hook you right away. “Say Goodbye” is one of the catchiest things I have heard in a while, and very few of the eight tracks that follow do anything to oppose that. So just how do they do it?
Well, they’ve had some practice, both in music and in living together. The band consists of brothers Kevin (guitar/keyboards) and John Mason (lead guitar), both of whom were members of Swirlitbox; Jason Westbrook (bass), who is a former member of Schatzi; newcomer and younger brother Brian Mason (drums); and Jennifer Christen (vocals). The five-piece has adopted Austin, Texas as its home, and Never Stood a Chance is its debut.
“Whoa ho” choruses abound, and though the nicely understated female vocals aren’t as lovely as some of the bands Masonic could be compared to, they are pleasant enough to make you pay attention to both them and the lyrics, which are equally good. Musically, the formula is rather simple, with songs like “Chopper, “Brand New Day,” “New Song,” and “Friday Night Song” all built upon a simple rhythm that doesn’t vary a whole hell of a lot. This causes things to get a little monotonous at times, but it’s forgivable, thanks to breaks like the unique “bo7.” Slower songs like “Satellite Tonight,” “Forgiven,” and “Way Down Avenue” are a little more melancholic, but equally hook-laden and infectious, almost making depression an enjoyable thing.
Masonic combines witty pop songwriting with more aggressive guitars and rhythms, also adding some clever keyboard work and those cutesy female vocals. If you took the rhythms and keyboards of a band like The Rentals, but added some more hostile, Sonic Youth-esque guitar work, you would have something like what Masonic is trying to pull off. The end mix is mostly poppy, but a little dreamy and spacey at the same time.
The home studio vibe that flows throughout the production quality of the entire album meshes nicely with the music, creating something that will soothe the ear of any lover of underground pop. This is simple music, but it is done well, thanks largely to the fact that the band practiced for a full year before agreeing to play a single gig. The trick with this sort of style is to catch the ear of your listener right away because it is nothing they haven’t heard before, and that is something Masonic has nearly mastered with only one release. A little more polish, and these guys could be capable of something very nice.