Nobody ever said pop punk and bank robberies were a match made in heaven, but four guys clad in bright colored ski masks playing pop punk music is something to be seen as well as heard. Masked Intruder puts a unique twist on the all but streamlined pop punk formula with their novelty stage act and catchy tunes. Masked Intruder’s second album, M.I., was released under Fat Wreck Chords on May 27 and is a standout with or without the added luxury of a live show. They offer a fine-tuned doo wop style with a punk edge in every bit of their lyrics, style, and persona.
The Masked Intruders look like a group of guys you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley, but when they break into song, you will be glad you did. This album packs 13 catchy tracks with typical pop punk themes about love and adds the twist of cheeky crime ridden lyrics and plenty of civil disobedience. Starting right off with “I Fought the Law,” the listener is thrust into the world of a ‘masked intruder’ being chased by the police. The song is a nod to the classic “I Fought the Law and the Law Won,” but is in no way a cover. For the Masked Intruder newbie, this is a great introduction to the punk edged harmony the band does so well. It also starts an album-long story style timeline full of crimes of passion.
Continuing through a series of alternating themes of love and crime with melodic perfection, next up comes “The Most Beautiful Girl,” where the lyrics reference finding the perfect girl and then leads into “Crime Spree.” Now that lead singer (Blue) has the girl, the suggestion is to go on a ‘Crime spree together.’ This track perfectly blends love and crime in a peppy, happy melody and is supported with sharp, clear instrumentation. Masked Intruder has found a genius way to merge catchy tunes suitable for pop radio with added punk attitude. The ballad, “Looks Like We’re Already in Love,” is a great example of the retro style four part harmony M.I. brings back into the forefront of listeners’ ears. If this song doesn’t get stuck in your head for days on end you probably weren’t listening to it loud enough.
Running at just over 30 minutes, M.I. is short, sweet, catchy and adds a new ingredient to the classic punk rock recipe. However, that is nothing compared to the punk rock fueled dance parties fans of Masked Intruder have come to love and expect. Their live show includes the masked men as well as their own cop who gets in on the act. By the Barricade caught their show at Punk Rock Bowling over Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas and we were able to witness this fine mix of great music and stage antics. The cop engages the crowd, goes after the guys with a baton, as well as dances along with the masked men. In addition, girls are brought up on stage to dance and party with the Masked Intruders making the show an ultimate crowd pleaser.
By the Barricade recommends M.I. to anyone that enjoys peppy, happy pop punk, but after catching the band’s set several times, suggest seeing Masked Intruder on stage. Masked Intruder’s sound provides a great opportunity for a fresh walk down memory lane … even if you were not alive during the doo-wop era. The band will be touring though the Midwest and east coast over the summer and will be heading off to Europe so be sure to catch these sneaky masked musicians when they sneak into your town or at least pick up M.I. on CD or vinyl and rock out with your friends.