ALBUM REVIEW: Steve Mason – Boys Outside (Domino/Double Six)
Ex-Beta Band man Steve Mason has had a turbulent few years since the band split; suffering from depression, ‘Boys Outside’ seems like a cathartic release. Produced by unashamed pop maestro Richard X this album showcases some beautiful songs and harks back somewhat to the very best stuff the Beta Band did on their first three EPs.
The opening line on the album, from ‘Understand My Heart’, goes “Sometimes when I’m alone at night I surround myself with what I think’s right/Then I find I’m awake until it’s light” and is a good indicator of what is to come, with a nod to troubles and then a chorus which points to isolation. Second track ‘Am I Just A Man’ is my favourite, with its lovelorn confusion set to a pop backing. The title track is also a winner and is perhaps the one which deals with depression head on the most. Mason’s voice has always been able to phrase a lyric in a unique and interesting way while sounding like he really means it, and these seem to be some of the most personal songs he has written.
Most of the album is suffused with melancholy and heartbreak, though I should hasten to point out that while this album may lyrically deal with depression, it is far from being depressing. Mason’s lyrics are not so explicit as to be overbearing, and the musical backing created with Richard X is actually uplifting.
While perhaps not as out-there as the Beta Band at their best, and without the grooves that would meld themselves into your brain and go on for ten minutes, this still shows more creativity than the average singer-songwriter type and we can only hope that Mason carries on in this vein for many years to come.
Physical release: 3 May
Press contact: Domino IH [NP], La Digit [O]
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