the masquerade by mxmtoon album review

House Arrest/Orchard



the masquerade

It’s a pretty universal thing, growing up and furiously scribbling all the thoughts and feelings, that you can barely contain in your head, onto the pages of a diary. As teenagers every emotion is such a huge be all, end all that this practice is such an easy way to step back and rationalize it. 19 year old mxmtoon with the masquerade has essentially taken that teen diary and put it to music, crafting a charming confessional about the missed opportunities, unrequited loves and how quickly things change when we are growing up.

the masquerade kicks off with the track “unspoken words”. The song, a lo fi confessional about finally saying the things to a friend or, possibly, a love that you hadn’t had the time or chance to say and want to before the future takes you both away. As the track gets into the chorus, it positivity explodes into full technicolor highlighting the emotions on display. The conceit is that this is all being done onto a voice mail and it’s remarkably wholesome in such a lovely way. “Prom Dress” keeps things upbeat with a crackling organ part as mxmtoon laments the end of her high school years. “I’m sitting here crying in my prom dress,” she sings,” I’d be the prom queen, if crying was a contest” over a strummy ukulele part and hand claps, showing the young singers great grasp of melody and wordplay. “suffice” continues the trend of mxmtoon singing about her inability to honestly connect with her feelings and honestly being okay with it. Over a minimal beat and guitar she grapples with her past but looks hopeful toward changing her ways. There is something super endearing about hearing these thoughts in such an honest way that you can’t help but pull for her to break through. “blame game” features a jazzy guitar buoyed by mxmtoon’s effervescent vocals. The confessional quality of the lyrics continues here. It does feel like you are reading a teenagers diary but it’s not cloying at all, instead mostly comes off as charming as she struggles with a past relationship that hasn’t panned out.

You can definitely hear how these songs all came together. On “high and dry” you get a glimpse at mxmtoon strumming her ukulele in her bedroom running through her diary’s passages. The production does expand and while it’s nice to hear these songs fleshed out, the songwriting itself remains strong enough that even without the added muscle they would still be good. “my ted talk” is another stripped down track as mxmtoon tries to figure out, with her therapist, if she wants love and in an earnest way she questions and answers herself and gives insight into her songwriting process. “seasonal depression” is another one that starts quietly and amps up as it goes. The production is as crisp as mxmtoon’s lyrical pithiness. The passage of time is a huge factor in every song on the record and one that is directly addressed in “untitled”. At the tail end of your teenage years everything is changing so rapidly and here, over airy synths and a big roomy drum beat, mxmtoon sings about a relationship fading away because of that growth and while she’s sad about it, the spark of optimism remains that she’ll “make it through”. Besides two acoustic versions of the records first two tracks, the album closes with “late nights”. Over a chorus drenched guitar, she sings of insomnia filled nights filled with thoughts of an unrequited crush.

mxmtoon with the masquerade opens up her diary and has crafted something of a time capsule that perfectly encapsulates this time in her life. It’s confessional and quite sweet. It generally bypasses too much sentimentality through her witty turn of phrase and her quite wonderful songwriting ability. While it is slight, it contains a lot to enjoy mostly through the charisma of the young performer. Everyone has thought and felt all these things and while some may be long past the point of those high school emotions, mxmtoon the masquerade is a nice reminder that while these feelings evolve they aren’t always that far removed from when we were young, wide eyed and trying to navigate the new world we find, or have found, ourselves in. The record is a nice bit of solace for anyone that has felt confused, left out and under represented and, no matter what age, offers a little hope for everyone in this crazy, mixed up world.

review by Adam Fink

Tour Dates:

9/19 – Portland, OR – Holocene (SOLD OUT)
9/20 – Vancouver, BC – Rio
9/21 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile (SOLD OUT)
9/27 – Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy (SOLD OUT)
9/28 – Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy (SOLD OUT)
10/1 – Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar (SOLD OUT)
10/2 – San Diego, CA – Voodoo Room (SOLD OUT)
10/4 – Santa Ana, CA – Constellation Room (SOLD OUT)
10/5 – Santa Ana, CA – Constellation Room (SOLD OUT)
10/12 – Washington, DC – All Things Go Festival
10/19 – 10/20 – Las Vegas, NV – Metarama Gaming + Music Festival
10/22 – Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court (SOLD OUT)
10/23 – Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge (SOLD OUT)
10/25 – St. Paul, MN – Amsterdam Hall (SOLD OUT)
10/26 – Chicago, Il – Lincoln Hall (SOLD OUT)
10/27 – Detroit, MI – Shelter (SOLD OUT)
10/31 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
11/6 – Toronto, ON @ Velvet Underground (SOLD OUT)
11/8 – Boston, MA – The Sinclair (SOLD OUT)
11/9 – Philadelphia, PA – The Foundry (SOLD OUT)
11/11 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade (Purgatory) (SOLD OUT)
11/14 – New York, NY – Rockwood Music Hall (SOLD OUT)
11/15 – New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre (SOLD OUT)
12/1 – Southampton, UK @ Engine Room* (SOLD OUT)
12/2 – Birmingham, UK @ Academy 2* (SOLD OUT)
12/3 – Norwich, UK @ Epic* (SOLD OUT)
12/5 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club* (SOLD OUT)
12/6 – Glasgow, UK @ The Garage* (SOLD OUT)
12/7 – Manchester, UK @ Manchester Academy 2* (SOLD OUT)
12/8 – Dublin, Ireland @ Dublin Academy Green Room* (SOLD OUT)
12/10 – Bristol, UK @ The Fleece*(SOLD OUT)
12/11 – London, UK @ Camden Assembly
12/12 – London, UK @ Electric Ballroom* (SOLD OUT)

*Supporting Cavetown