But I feel like a teenager right now. So pardon this fanboy enthusiasm, please.
Every few months, I browse the top-selling albums in Canada to see if decent music is showing any signs of coming back from wherever the hell it went about twenty years ago. I unearth many an earworm--modern pop is nothing besides catchy--and occasional glimmers of compositional talent. But until the other night it had been many a year since I'd heard something that made me sit bolt upright and start grinning like a fool.
Behold: Masterpiece Theater, by Marianas Trench.
It takes brass balls to put the word "Masterpiece" in your second album's title. It takes something a good deal more uncommon to actually make it stick. This Vancouver group is, at heart, a pop-punk band, like so many ho-hum pop-punk bands infesting the scene today. Unlike pretty much all of them, Marianas Trench has musical ability out the wazoo. Couple that with an utterly fearless eclecticism (this album has everything from doo-wop to an almost Broadway sensibility in places), sprinkle with infectious hooks, and stir in a three-octave-plus range from lead singer Josh Ramsay...and you have an album with staying power.
Standout songs include the three title tracks that together form a kind of symphonic rock suite (the last, "Masterpiece Theater #3" is, in fact, a megamix of most of the other tracks on the album, and how creative is that nowadays?); "Acadia", bright riff-rock about lost childhood; and most notably, "Beside You", a gorgeous love song with a "Life In A Northern Town" vibe to it.
Best of all, I can't detect a phase vocoder anywhere from start to finish. I'm heartily sick of these auto-tuning devices. Not only do they give the music an artificial sound, they make certain qualities--such as the ability to sing on key, or indeed at all--irrelevant. Ramsay prefers to let his voice croon and occasionally scream naturally--and the harmonies his group puts forth are (dare I say it) reminiscent of Queen. Highly impressive.
Masterpiece Theater has gone gold in Canada and deserves to do the same in the States. It's just that good. If this is what teenagers are listening to (and liking) these days, there may be hope. I'll be eagerly awaiting their next release. And if that makes me sound like a fanboy, so be it.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled Breadbin...