The pressure of being the creative force behind New York band Hooray For Earth had gotten to Noel Heroux. Ten years down the line he had found himself being depressed and frustrated, being slap-dash and not giving his all. The only way to halt the decline was to break-up the band and start again. Mass Gothic is his new project for Sub Pop. Working alone, Heroux has found that the creative juices flow resulting in a sweeping and thrilling set of guitar-driven pop songs. Available on indies only banana yellow ‘Loser Edition’ vinyl, standard vinyl, CD and Cassette.
7/10 Robin Staff review, 02 February 2016
Breaching the emotional heights of Permalight-era Rogue Wave and a season one episode of Heroes, Noel Heroux has made a clean break from Hooray For Earth and become Mass Gothic. This synth-supplemented guitar rawk project doesn’t sound a million miles from a way more streamlined Tame Impala, at first take, if internal struggles were more important than psychedelic atmosphere. The way ‘Mass Gothic’ begins -- with the repetitive, riff distorted and rocked-to-fuck “Mind Is Probably” -- you can hear him reaching for that cacophonic climax. The drums fall apart and his voice begins to warble, betraying the record’s earnest side after several minutes of crystalline humming.
Heroux loves to toy with ambience, and it sounds like toy ambience, after the BoC remnants on “Mind Is Probably” he uses “Open The Road” as an interluding, metal-sheet ballad. It’s obvious that Heroux wants to set things in place before going through the motions, which sometimes works (that opener is kinda addictive), and sometimes doesn’t: the shimmering textures of “Pier Pressure” don’t really match up to the drumbeat that breaks through them -- waves can’t be pierced by more water. Heroux’s voice, though, can work its way through any problem -- his Dodos-esque coo on this track is distanced but dramatic, tethering together the disparate sounds he’s assembled (which eventually go on to include a sparkly, ‘80s piano motif. Okay).
He gets silly, and Mass Gothic goes through some changes: “Nice Night” brings in high ‘n’ wild vocal harmonies before a pantomimic gang vocal centers things (“Every night! You’ve got to save me!”) and the latter-day guitar squelch of Sufjan offers itself to proceedings. He gets kosmische (like, Muse kosmische), on “Money Counter”, at which point I become suspicious that indie pop albums are getting weirder. Trying harder? I don’t know, but there’s some magic in this mess.
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