Steve Mason: Meet The Humans | Virgin Media
Steve Mason: Meet The Humans

Steve Mason: Meet The HumansRating: ★★★★☆ | by Chris Nye-Browne

26/02/2016

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It would be fair to say that Steve Mason is a critics’ favourite. From the prog-psych of late 90s visionaries The Beta Band to his solo project King Biscuit Time to his electro team-up with Jimmy Edgar as Black Affair and in recent years under his own moniker, rarely will you have heard a dissenting voice.

Why do hacks have such fondness for him? Well, he’s always been an outsider, working on the edges of the industry and he’s never shied away from pouring his heart and soul into everything he does.

This is Mason's sunshine pop album

Tie that to a musical vision that is expansive and daring, taking inspiration from folk, hip-hop, electronica, dub, psychedelia, trip-hop, rock and house, combined with a knack for turning these disparate elements into great songs and you have your answer.

Meet The Humans, his third solo offering, is a surprise turn then in some respects, as it’s not pushing any envelopes. Eleven concise, mostly upbeat, melodic indie-folk-pop songs occasionally swelled by orchestration; this is Mason’s sunshine pop album, if you like. It’s produced by Elbow’s Craig Potter which is a fair indication of where Mason wanted to take Meet The Humans. It’ll go down well at festivals and could help bring him to a new audience.

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In anyone else’s hands this would probably be a criticism, but the songwriting remains effortlessly brilliant. Planet Sizes bounces along on stabby piano chords before luxuriating in a beautiful chorus of tinkling synths and rolling drums. Like Water is one of the most conventional songs that Mason’s ever written but it’s a joyous thing, all lush orchestration and lyrics about overcoming sadness and coming out the other side, fitter and stronger.


Album closer Words In My Head is the edgiest thing here with its trip-hop beat and minor chords but it’s essentially a love song. And that’s the theme of the album: Mason’s finally opened the door to the sunshine and, damn, it feels good.