Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Album Review - Massachusetts 2010 - Mathieu Santos

As a composer, Mathieu Santos (bass player extraordinaire for Ra Ra Riot) is poised somewhere between Koji Kondo and Brian Wilson. In the perfectly sweet and earnest "(I just) Need to Know" I can hear whispers of both the theme to Mario Brothers and "Wouldn't it Be Nice" or a number of other songs on the Beach Boys iconic 1966 Pet Sounds album. Built around the one lyric "I just need to know" - Santos imbues the words with innocence and longing as the music dances along like a finely orchestrated video game. It is infectious and daring and one of my favorite songs on Massachusetts 2010, Mathieu's full length debut album. There is a lot to like here from "I can Hear the Trains Coming" which highlight Santos' nimble bass playing to "Silly Thoughts" which wraps a lush arrangement around hand claps. "Northern Mentality" with sparse drums, driving syncopated bass line and an 80's vibe hooks you in immediately and reminds me a bit of Santigold's sound on her debut album. Like a lot of the songs on Massachusetts 2010 it has layers and layers of amazing instrumentation. Hearing each ingredient tossed into the mix is half the fun. The other half is how far reaching these soundscapes are. "Wait to Get Up" jams with crunchy lead licks and swings like The Police style reggae. At 1 minute and 35 seconds in, I dare you not to join in the yelps. "Massachusetts" percolates with extremely lively bass, percussion and a story telling melody style that is reminiscent of South African Zulu Isicathmiya folk songs. I absolutely love "I Said So" except that it doesn't last long enough. The bass punches and kicks like a Mod / Punk song done live in a tube station. "I'd Go" also floats around that Pet Sounds vibe and would be a song that Brian Wilson would fall lovingly (or "druggingly") asleep to in his sandbox. The instrumental "Good Return Theme" is a bit of driving background music and "The Bay / Where to Find Her", to me, serves more as a musical stream of consciousness and meanders a bit but who really cares. The songs on the impressively deep Massachusetts 2010 are so original, so delicious that I can live with a couple of green jelly beans.
Adler Bloom

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