[23 April 2008]
On their second recording, Michigan indie collective Mason Proper come across a little quirky, a little moody and really talented. Just four songs and twelve minutes, Shorthand still manages to present the band’s distinct vision and sound in a way that is clear and certain. The band takes singer Johnathan Visger’s charismatic yet anxious vocals and puts them out in front of a sound that features angular guitars, solid rhythms and a sense of musical adventure. That sense of adventure allows the band to explore and alter dynamics, arrangements and sounds to their liking. Opening track “Rest Up”, for example begins with ambient sounds obscured vocals before opening things up and allowing melodic guitars and dark bass/percussion sounds to transform the song into a slightly ominous alt-rock jam. Each track on the EP allows for a similar type of evolution and expression: “Bonemen” (perhaps the EP’s best track) is as straight-ahead rock as the EP gets and features frighteningly sunny vocals and fuzzy guitars; “Friendship” starts on the mellow end of the spectrum before ending in a sweet guitar/horn freakout; “Traveling Men” closes the disc begins with shifting and sliding electronics, eventually taking shape as a mellow, rhythmic ditty with just a little bit of attitude. If this EP is any indication, Mason Proper has all the tools necessary to take over the indie world; the band possesses elements that are attractive to multiple camps and puts them together in a glorious way.