There’s always been something about the artistic and musical spirit that emanates from New York, a groundbreaking irreverence for trends visible across the genres, from punk to disco, from hip-hop to folk. In the past year, the big apple has begun to re-establish itself at music’s cutting edge, as bands such as The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Liars have mined the city’s legendary punk past and dragged it into the 21st century.
However, proving that it doesn’t have to be loud to be good, the DIY anti-folk punk stylings of Major Matt Mason USA are a refreshing (and calming) breath of fresh air. Originally from Kansas, but now based in New York’s artistic epicentre the East Village, Major Matt’s minimal genius was first recognised with his debut album Me Me Me, proving that what makes a song great isn’t arrangements or production, but rather the song.
Back on the Teenage Fanclub-affiliated Shoeshine Records, Honey Are You Ready for the Ballet picks up where Me Me Me left off – one voice, one guitar and whole bunch of beautiful and just slightly bizarre songs. While not always making a great deal of sense, the innocent and compelling lyrics, reminiscent of Syd Barret or Robyn Hitchcock, are childlike yet engaging, perfectly complimenting MMM’s unpolished guitar accompaniment.
While the uncompromisingly raw sound may not always be to everyone’s taste, MMM still manages to infuse the songs with a great deal of spirit and emotion. From the sweetly waltzing Follow Her to the plodding resignation of It’s All You via the upbeat grunge of Mittens, Major Matt churns out great songs seemingly with a minimal amount of effort.
It’s such an entertaining album that listening to it made me late for work. Honey Are You Ready For The Ballet asks very little, but gives a great deal in return.