I was put off at first by the squeaky clean-ness of Steve Mason’s new album Boys Outside, especially compared to the wonderfully scruffy, scratchiness of early Beta Band cuts like “Dry the Rain,” (which I missed the first time around, thanks to Michael for helping me catch up). But it grew on me, especially the back end of the album. My review’s up at Dusted today. I end it like this:
In songs like “All Come Down” and “Boys Outside,” the combination of extremely clear, extremely pop production with rather harrowing themes seems to expand the scope of the work. It turns what are obviously personal songs into something larger, more inclusive and more general than the experience that brought them forth. There’s a lift to the swelling vocals. The arching choral climaxes make you feel a resolution to the suffering here – and not just Mason’s personal suffering, either. He’s turned a hard patch into something transcendental. However brief, however ephemeral, there’s a sense of spiritual overcoming that encompasses not just his own history, but the experiences that listeners bring to these sad songs, as well.
“All Come Down”