Masked Intruder – ‘III’

By Tom Walsh

Masked Intruder are back and that pesky Officer Bradford is still hot on their trail. They are continuing to do what they love the most – robbing banks and crooning to the figure of their unrequited love. They are the lovable losers that will spend hard time in the clink on the promise that they can have a special place in your heart.

It can be a bold step to persist with a gimmick for so long but with Masked Intruder you can’t picture them doing anything else. They craft an extremely engaging tale of how Blue, Red, Yellow and Green met in prison and began to pen sugary-sweet pop-punk songs to explain how much they love their gal on the outside.

Their third studio album, ‘III’, sees Masked Intruder team up with their partners in crime – Less Than Jake bassist Roger Lima as producer and Mike Kennerty (of All-American Rejects fame) as co-producer – and the record continues to wander along the well trodden line of their self-titled debut and the follow-up ‘M.I.’.

However, rather than tentatively follow this tried and tested formula, there are departures that make ‘III’ a much more varied record to ‘M.I.’. There are dabbles in doowop in the swinging ‘Mine All Mine’ while there is an opportunity to whip out a hair metal solo during the bridge of ‘Dream a Little Dream’.

The subject remains relentlessly in character as Masked Intruder continue to battle with Officer Bradford in the breakneck opener of ‘No Case’. They are not going down for another crime, with Blue remonstrating with the judge that their court-appointed chaperone needs to “shut your mouth and prove it/I didn’t do it”.

The narrative swings between the gang wistfully yearning for their beloved and getting the urge to go on that tempting crime spree to land it big. Then, of course, there are the seemingly innocent – bordering on the trademark creepy – love letters to the apples of their eyes. Naturally, it is in the guise of gazing through the window from a treehouse as the object of their desire is in bed with their boyfriend on ‘Not Fair’.

There are even moments when crime and love collide, such as on ‘Just So You Know’, where Blue turns a bank robbery into the great love story of the 21st century. These are the last of the great romantics with all the hooks and melodies that made this brand of pop-punk so intensely popular.

Masked Intruder manage to effectively balance comedy with all the key components of the bubblegum side of pop-punk. If you could distill ‘III’ down to a single word, it would be ‘fun’. This is a delightfully fun record made for those endless summer days that pop-punk becomes the soundtrack for but also the lovable, hapless masked criminals place a hilarious backstory to these faceless characters.

‘III’ is another triumph of a record from pop punk’s favourite reprobates, and as they leave us with ‘I’ll Be Back Again Someday’, it is something we all hope for. Well, except that pesky Officer Bradford.

TOM WALSH

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