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Steve Mason: Boys Outside


Steve Mason

Album: Boys Outside
Label: Domino

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Not to take anything away from The Beta Band, Black Affair, or King Biscuit Time, but when Scottish psych-pop veteran Steve Mason works under his own name for the first time on his new LP, Boys Outside, he’s more focused than ever. Mason continues the pursuit of the murmuring and incantatory that’s been his stock in trade since the Beta days, but Boys Outside is less flighty and experimental, and more about softly funky songs that insinuate themselves into the subconscious. Granted, Mason’s what-the-hell side has always been one of his defining characteristics, and without it, Boys Outside occasionally runs toward indistinct riffs on Pink Floyd and Massive Attack. But the album follows a smart progression, starting with choppier, more beat-driven songs like “Understand My Heart” and “Yesterday,” then getting folkier and more delicate, until by the final song—the whispery “Hound On My Heel”—Mason is producing sounds that merely suggest pop music. So Boys Outside has its experimental elements after all, but only by degrees. Mason starts with sturdily constructed songs, then loosens the screws one by one.