DAILY RECORD: Masshysteri

by | Aug 30, 2010 | MUSIC

Masshysteri – Masshysteri (Feral Ward)

Umea, Sweden’s Masshysteri have never been able to live down their influences. Their previous releases all wore the same few reference points proudly on their sleeves: the drive of the Wipers, the male/female vocal harmonies of Dead Moon (though unlike Dead Moon, Masshysteri’s were on key), and the propulsive twang of surf music. They haven’t disavowed anything on their newest release, but Masshysteri has synthesized those elements more thoroughly than ever before, rendering each component of their sound a true influence, rather than just a record review reference point.


Masshysteri – Masshysteri (Feral Ward)

Umea, Sweden’s Masshysteri have never been able to live down their influences. Their previous releases all wore the same few reference points proudly on their sleeves: the drive of the Wipers, the male/female vocal harmonies of Dead Moon (though unlike Dead Moon, Masshysteri’s were on key), and the propulsive twang of surf music. They haven’t disavowed anything on their newest release, but Masshysteri has synthesized those elements more thoroughly than ever before, rendering each component of their sound a true influence, rather than just a record review reference point.

The album places a strong emphasis on dualities. Songs like “Beskjutna” and “Vintern” demonstrate a solidly executed balance between stripped-down production and tightly executed harmonies. The aforementioned decades-old influences coalesce into a sound that the band has made very much their own. The instrumentation derives its power from a simple guitar/bass/drums lineup but is complemented nicely with organ and saxophone touches on songs like “Dom Kan Inte Hora Musiken” and “Masshysteri Del Tva.” Even the album art balances uber-punk grainy photos and typewriter-font lyrics with images of the attractive young Swedes themselves. And most notably, the songwriting balances piss-and-vinegar energy with a melodic sense that leaves each song eerily familiar but utterly new. Any listeners who speak enough Swedish to decipher the lyrics would likely be able to sing along with every song before their first listen is complete.

And on that note, non-native English speaking bands who sing in their native language have always held a soft spot for me, even when I can’t understand a single word they sing. So many artists around the world opt for English in hopes of more universal acceptance, which can lead to awkward phrasing and can sell short a lyricist’s ability to express him or herself as fully as he or she would be able in a more familiar tongue. There are, of course, exceptions to this, but Masshysteri’s rejection of the stilted English of members’ previous band The Vicious has proven an advantage, especially on this most recent album. While neither vocalist is a virtuoso by any stretch of the imagination (it’s punk – they’re not supposed to be), there is a vocal dexterity present on the album that adds immeasurable depth to the already-impressive melodic capabilities of the band. My one complaint – and this may seem slightly hypocritical considering my earlier point – is that I wish there were translations provided. Everything else about this album is so killer, I can only imagine I’d like the lyrics.

Any fan of stripped-down garagey punk that’s derived from the past but doesn’t live in it would be well-advised to check out Masshysteri. Their newest album demonstrates the extent to which they have honed each of their many strengths, reconfiguring rather than regurgitating influences and crafting songs which will lodge themselves firmly into the head of any listener, regardless of whether or not he or she can understand the lyrics.

Marilyn Drew Necci

Marilyn Drew Necci

Former GayRVA editor-in-chief, RVA Magazine editor for print and web. Anxiety expert, proud trans woman, happily married.




more in music

Sound Check: Fighting Gravity, DIIV, Oddisee, and Upchuck

It is a fantastic week to get lost in music. The docket for this week is looking like nothing but refreshing and fulfilling tunes, absolutely what I need to combat the mood this ungodly and violent heat has presented to our pacifist city. With this lineup there is a...

Chandler, Los Malcriados, & Flight Club: Sound Check

Hello RVA! This weekend the city is going to be popped and packing with some big bills with bigger acts. It is prime time to see the incredibly diverse talent the city is currently providing, along with some exciting out of town acts thrown into the mix. My name is...

Photos From the Strawberry Moon Show at The Camel

Photographer Benjamin Lahoussine captured a killer set by powerhouse shredder punks Strawberry Moon the other weekend at The Camel. Known for their high-energy performances and raw, unapologetic sound, Strawberry Moon delivered. Here are the photos for those that...

Sam Barber, Grails & Burns Burly west: Sound Check

A wild and varied week it will be, with concert goers having to pick their sound of choice this weekend. Down on the Friday Cheers stage comes a rotation of country and folk artists headlined by the increasingly popular sound of Sam Barber, backed up by Jake Kohn and...

3 Bands, 3 Words: Ratfight, Psyop & Cardiel at Cobra Cabana

The night is started off by one of Richmond's newest and proudest quadruplets, Ratfight. I ask the tattooed and mustachioed singer Colter Smalley for a word on their performance. "Fuck," he gives me simply. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWR6-Tgj-YI The group rings...

Photos from the Baroness & Ruby the Hatchet Show

Over the weekend, The Broadberry in Richmond was electrified by powerful performances from Baroness along with Ruby The Hatchet and Final Gasp. The bands delivered a night of heavy rock, leaving the crowd energized and buzzing. Here are the photos for those that...

Topics: