Unfocused Noise Pop
In his self-titled debut, Mass Gothic (a.k.a former Hooray For Earth-front man Noel Heroux) spins out an eclectic collection of hazy garage rock tracks. Unfortunately, Heroux neglects to develop any compelling melodies or believable emotions. Heroux’s lyrics approximate a nebulous idea of loneliness over arrangements that largely conform to a middle-of-the-road garage rock approach.
Mass Gothic features the same buzzing guitars and crisp drums as Hooray For Earth’s releases, but Heroux largely fails to go any further and explore new sounds. Mass Gothic’s sole instrumental development is Heroux’s reliance on unadorned synthesizers. The straightforward arrangements, however, cause Heroux’s already repetitive songs to seem even longer. Tracks like “Mind is Probably,” “Want to, Bad” and “Pier Pressure” sound interminable as Heroux cycles around the same chord progressions, draping ever more distortion and layering ever more synths over their thin frames.
Furthermore, Heroux seems uncertain about what, precisely, he is trying to convey through Mass Gothic. “Soul” and “Own the Road,” two of the album’s stronger tracks, evidence his ability to craft strange, throbbing noise rock. The elements of “Soul” truly adhere when Heroux croons “You were in a magazine, talkin’ about the end of things” over a guitar line destroyed with distortion and reverb and uncanny, shimmering synths. Yet, these tracks are exceptions on an album dominated by failed incorporations of pop, electronica and R&B elements.
Heroux undermines any of Mass Gothic’s cohesion and charisma with half-baked indie pop tracks like “Want to, Bad” and “Every Night You’ve Got to Save Me.” The latter track demotes Mass Gothic from an unorganized, but passionate release to a cloying batch of uninspired filler. As in many of Mass Gothic’s tracks, Heroux takes an unimaginative chord progression and attempts to disguise it in a bizarre arrangement. It is hard to imagine a comparable release from an artist with less clout getting any traction.