Steve Mason - Meet The Humans
Meet The Humans is the third solo album release from stalwart indie experimentalist Steve Mason. From Mason's initial, and much loved, work as the driving force behind The Beta Band to his work under other guises as King Biscuit Time and Black Affair which, while not as revered as that early incarnation, still shows a supremely talented songwriter who is not one to curry favour with current styles and trends. With Elbow’s Craig Potter on production duties, Meet The Humans delivers a soulful and emotional punch while still retaining Mason’s inherent idiosyncrasies.
Compared to 2013’s Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time and its politically charged vibe and mish-mash of styles (ranging from ballads to trip hop), Meet The Humans is a much more straightforward and buoyant affair. And thankfully it thrives because of this. From the jubilant pop of opener ‘Water Bored’, through to the more traditional Beta Band-esque woozy swagger of ‘Alive’, demonstrate a songwriter who has found a confidence in themselves and their own skin that lifts this album to the next level. Other highlights include the acoustic balladry of ‘Ran Away’ , ‘Hardly Go Through’ swelling to a euphoric string-laden conclusion, and ‘Through My Window’ presented in its unpolished demo status with repetitive refrain “Is there anybody out there?”. The album concludes with 90s House music styled love song ‘Words In My Head’ including the beautifully phrased refrain “Please don’t ever listen to the words I say….. I love you, in my own way”.
Meet The Humans doesn’t demonstrate the same anger or variety of Mason's earlier releases, but it is one of the most cohesive releases of his long career. The UK music scene would be a much duller place without him and, if this is a sign of things to come then we should be excited about what the future holds.