Backyard Superheroes – Mass Hysteria

Backyard Superheroes may be the perfect band for anyone who thinks of Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, Five Iron Frenzy, and Save Ferris when they think of ska. These bands formed the backbone of the sound for a generation, and Backyard Superheroes have grabbed the baton and continued the race. With incredible horn lines, great guitar riffs, and amazing gang vocals, these tunes will have you singing along too. Every track on this album is a banger that lets you know that the sound of third wave ska punk will never go away. True to form, the songs and the melodies are uptempo and upbeat, but the focus of the lyrics tend to be about depression, growing older, self doubt, and personal struggle (with some exceptions). 

The album begins in a way that feels almost comparable to Reel Big Fish’s “Sell Out”. A quick punch of horns (with a little guitar), followed by a drum fill and a fast paced drum rhythm that is certain to get people skanking in the pit. This is such a great opening song with its amazing backing vocals, gang vocals, and a great guitar solo played under the horns. While the song is about trying to run away and escape your problems and dissociating, the music just wants to have fun and get you on your feet.

While maintaining the theme of feeling overwhelmed, “At Least My Dog Thinks I’m Cool” feels a little more like it is Less than Jake inspired to me. Plus it features samples from the dog, which always makes a song sound more fun – not that it was lacking in that department. Even better, this song was one of the album’s pre-release singles with a music video that features the band’s pets. We get to see dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and more. While I never rate albums with a score, I do rate music videos with pets as an obvious 10/10, must watch.

“Antisocial Media” is an aptly named social criticism of life in a social media age where people spend too much time living for likes, clicks. and clout. The track gets a little more hardcore than the ones ahead of it with some of the guitar riffs and screamed vocals. It doesn’t venture too far into skacore territory – just flexing a little more of their range. The band does a great job of featuring different members in vocal roles, backing vocals, and gang vocals in order to keep the songs feeling fresh and interesting. 

However, “Along for the Ride” breaks all of the rules. It starts off with a rock and roll, heavy metal intro, and then goes into what reminds me of Stryper, Skid Row, and Whitesnake. It’s the purest hair metal ska song that I’ve ever heard. The track really starts to shine when the gang vocals kick in during the chorus. It’s still a true third wave ska punk song throughout, but the 80’s influence feels almost undeniable…until…WHAM! The most hair metal guitar solo that has ever hit a ska song. Glam rock wishes it had what Backyard Superheroes put into this solo, and layering horns with it only makes it feel more authentic. 

A few tracks later we get “Reach for the Sky” which is, lyrically, my favorite song on the album. Musically, it kind of reminds me of something that Five Iron Frenzy might have wrote. It’s a little slower and a little more epic in sound. I appreciate the reminder that you can’t wait for the world to change, you have to take part in the change that you want to see. “I can’t sit back watching idle as the world burns, hoping someone saves us from the flames” Honestly, this is just a really uplifting song that I love to hear in an album full of songs about being overwhelmed.

The album’s titular track, “Mass Hysteria”, features Coolie Ranx and the guitars and horns in this track are amazing. This song feels a little more hyper than the rest and I love Coolie Ranx’s inclusion. It adds a texture that was lacking on the rest of the album. The track definitely sticks out a little as it feels a bit like a party song with the gang vocals. Several of the songs stood out for their uniqueness, despite them all very much feeling like they are part of a cohesive album. 

It’s insane that the 3 guitars, 4 horns, and the drums in this album all have room without feeling crowded. The vocals are crisp, clear, and easy to sing along. The gang vocals, backing vocals, and everything else, fits so well together while never being jumbled or hidden. Finally, the production on this album is top notch. 

Gimp Leg is a freelance ska fan that enjoys writing, because he is completely devoid of musical talent. He also hates cops and capitalism, but loves paleontology and baseball. He wants you to know that he is proud of you and that you are doing the best you can.

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