Tuesday, December 03, 2013

CD Review: Mascott - Cost/Amount


Another one that's been sitting around for a couple months, waiting for attention...

In the early days of this blog, I wrote a very effusive post about Mascott's Dreamer's Book album which you can find here. In case you don't follow that link (which you should, as a buildup for what follows), suffice to say I loved that album. Unfortunately I never got around to getting that album's followup, but now there's finally a chance to hear what Mascott (which is essentially Kendall Jane Meade with friends) is up to.

Cost/Amount has just four songs, all of which are much more stripped down sonically than the rich layers of guitars and keyboards that Meade constructed all those years ago. But they also offer perfect examples of pop songs that can be brainy and even fairly accessible at the same time. The title track offers a fresh take on broken relationships, tallying up a series of numbers over a bright, chugging guitar riff: "There's 52 weeks in a year, that's 52 Saturdays/ I've seen 52 sadder ways to spend the night alone," she begins, eventually giving four-figure numbers and a clever, somewhat economic assessment of love before the song ends too soon at just over two minutes.

The sweet "Our Life" is tailor made to be a hit, full of ringing acoustic guitars and high register "ooh"s in the chorus. With its recurring reference to Pink Floyd's most famous album in the chorus, it goes a little deeper to set up the hopeful flip side to the previous song. "By the Book" recalls earlier Mascott recordings, since it's built around an electric piano riff and features Meade singing in a lower register.

Kirsty MacColl wrote "They Don't Know" and Tracey Ullmann had a hit with a version that took inspiration from '60s girl groups, with chiming keyboards and layers of vocal harmonies. Hearing it stripped down to just Meade and a few casually strummed guitar is a bit of a shock on first blush. But it leaves all the important elements intact: the strong melody and the power of love in the face of discouragement. 

All told, Cost/Amount wraps up in less than 12 minutes, which feels far too soon and might be a reason to buy it as a download rather than a physical copy. It needs to be heard, though, and hopefully this is just an appetizer for a longer work that Meade has up her sleeve.

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