Review Summary: Fair to Midland-lite
To get an accurate assessment of We Are Masked's debut album, Paradigm
, simply think back to Fair to Midland's most recent record, Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times is True
. Only take out Matt Langley's tranquil keyboards, dramatically tone down the heaviness – and by extension the band's metal influences. Ditch the big choruses, the variation, and the weirdness. You can probably forget the band's art rock label, as well. Oh, and throw in the occasional guitar solo here and there. Essentially, it sounds like Darroh Sudderth is singing over a shell of what Fair to Midland strives to accomplish. And as grating as that may be, it's made all the worse by We Are Masked's tendency to give the listener short glimpses of untapped talent, before burying it in the mediocrity that becomes the norm far too often.
As it stands, Paradigm
isn't necessarily a poor effort, but it is fairly dull and unimaginative in most areas. We Are Masked is a young band, and the inexperience is evident throughout the near entirety of the record. Paradigm
is not a very confident sounding album, and much of time it feels as though the three-piece is holding back. James Abbott's riffs are pedestrian, yet somehow overpower Cameron Fitzpatrick's mostly inaudible bass guitar and Vincent Russell's drumming. As mentioned earlier, Fitzpatrick, who also handles the vocals, bears a significant semblance to Darroh Sudderth. While his bizarre singing style is a bit conservative and one-dimensional, Fitzpatrick's efforts are one of Paradigm
's few bright spots, and he especially shines on the album's first track, "The Cliché". On "Our Eyes and Weaving Fingers", the other two members of We Are Masked manage to keep up with their singer, propelling the track to standout status – a prestige limited to only one other song, that being "Quiet". Paradigm
's undisputedly strongest song, the track is a departure from the band's alt rock affinities in favour of folkier influences. Solely acoustic, "Quiet" not only provides a much needed change in tempo for the record (though it's too little, too late, unfortunately), but more importantly sounds the fullest and most distinct of any song We Are Masked has to offer.
Of course, it wouldn't be fair to write off We Are Masked after one album. Fair to Midland had The Carbon Copy Silver Lining
, after all, and though it is admittedly (much) stronger than Paradigm
, the two records are quite similar to one another. As with The Carbon Copy Silver Lining
, We Are Masked's debut features a reserved band unsure of what they're trying to accomplish or convey. Given the quality of "Quiet", however, then I'm confident that the North Carolina based act should be able to pull of something nice in the coming years.