If you don’t know Chicago trio Massive Ego yet, you better start paying close attention now. Massive Ego are made up of multi-instrumentalists Dan Rico, Magic Ian, and Fumo Stromboli. Their first two EPs, Nope and NVMND, were both released in 2012. Now comes the band’s full-length debut Don’t. This genre-bending, whirlwind of an album more than deserves your time and attention.
The band describes their style as being psychedelic punk, a label that definitely lives up to its name on the opening track, “Another Friday Night”. This track sets the mood for the rest of the album perfectly, greeting listeners with distorted, loud guitar feedback and pounding drums. It may just sound like the band tinkering around with their instruments, but then the album kicks off into a garagepunk freak out towards the middle half.
Throughout this album, structure and stylistic changes all happen at the drop of a dime, making it an engaging and fun experience. The band stays in this style during the two fantastic tracks that follow: “And Now I’m Feeling Low” and “Slit”. These great pieces of catchy punk are impossible not to sing along to.
The band completely shifts gears on the album’s fourth track: the psychedelic-influenced folk track “Heavy Heavy”. With its oddball lyrics and simplistic acoustic guitar, piano, and violin instrumentation, it’s impossible to not be enthralled by this track. “Heavy Heavy” is easily a standout moment on an album that’s filled with standouts.
“Purple Bruises”, another catchy rocker, falls in line with the first couple tracks off Don’t. Track six, “Peripheral Vizionz”, would not have felt out of place on an early Talking Heads record. It’s one of the catchiest and most infectious tracks you’ll hear all year. Everything about this song is well-executed from the jumpy guitar riff to the easily singable chorus. “Peripheral Vizionz” is a must-listen and a fantastic ode to new wave and post punk of the late 70’s and early 80’s.
The trio of songs at the albums end “Weird Chick at The Dustbowl”, “(Reprise)” and “Automation” conclude the album on an easygoing note. They’re more in favor of the psychedelic rock elements of their music as opposed to their punk side. Of course there is plenty of catchy songwriting and killer lyrics on these tracks, especially “Automation”.
“Automation” was a perfect choice to close out this excellent record. It’s a song about being fed up with societal norms and wanting to break free from them. To go on and do your own thing and feeling pleased with the choices you make . A very simple and relateable premise for a song. In some ways, it’s also a good analogy for Massive Ego’s aesthetic, way of writing, and performing that’s very evident in their music.
Don’t by Massive Ego is at times a cacophonous, beautiful, and warped record. This well-written, genre-hopping LP pays respect to some of the best musical styles of the past 30 years. In this reviewer’s humble opinion, Don’t may be the best record to come out of not only Chicago, but the Midwest, in 2013.
Give the album a listen and purchase here: http://massiveego.bandcamp.com/