Mest – Masquerade
Released: 17th January 2020
Tony Lovato // Vocals / guitar
Matt Lovato // Bass
Jeremiah Rangel // Guitar
Nick Gigler // Drums
US punk band Mest are one of those severely underrated bands from the early 2000’s who got stuck in the shadows of bigger pop punk acts like Good Charlotte and Sum 41. And if you were a hardcore GC fan, I’m sure some of you may remember when Benji Madden suddenly appeared on MTV on a video that wasn’t his own band, featuring on a song titled ‘Jaded (These Years)’ by a then-young and upcoming band called Mest. Since then, the pop punk four-piece have had a slew of fan favourites like ‘Fuct Up Kid’, ‘Rooftops’ and their popular hit ‘Cadillac’.
The band sadly broke up in 2006, however frontman Tony Lovato decided to reignite the band in 2008 and even brought the band on a tour to Australia in 2009 (hands up if you remember attending that pop punk party on a boat in Sydney back in the day!), and while that tour only featured Tony Lovato as the only original member, it wasn’t until 2018 that the OG four-piece reunited. Fast track 2 years and Mest have sprung on us a brand new full-length, Masquerade.
The title track of the album instantly throws us back to yesteryear. Listening to ‘Masquerade’ for the first time, I couldn’t help but hear songs like ‘Rooftops’ in the back of my mind, and I almost shed tears of happiness. These guys still got it. The fast punk riffs turn it up a decibel on ‘Dead End Street’, an anthem for the hopeless emo kid in you. The chorus, lyrically and instrumentally, is the catchiest sound I’ve heard in a long time. ‘Almost Forgot’ is an emotive, melodic track of feelings of hopelessness, and drummer Nick Gigler is fucking fantastic with the intro here. Lyrically, this tune will guarantee to make you sad and empathise with Lovato.
The overall lyrical theme of Masquerade dives deep into your inner emotions throughout the entire album, and there are several songs on there that will hit you in the right spot if you’re stuck in a dark place in life. ‘Answers’ provides some hope to the listener in that we don’t always have the answers straight away, “but we will learn when the timing is right. It’s okay if you don’t know, just live your life and let it go.” ‘I Am Right Here’ sings about that all-too-familiar feeling of being ghosted, but it’s during the next track that we get more of the melodic, progressive Mest. ‘The Numbers’ sounds like it came straight from the band’s 2005 record Photographs (I had a real obsession with the track ‘Kiss Me, Kill Me’ and it still stands as one of my favourite songs by the band!), and it’s at this point in the album that the feelings of hopelessness slowly start to fade. While ‘Don’t Worry Son’ feels similar to a Yellowcard kind of vibe, it’s still a beautiful piece of music, portraying a message from father to son, so to all my pop punk friends with kids, I hope you all play this tune to your little ones one night.
While Mest could easily slide into your classic pop punk playlist, they’ve always had punk rock tendencies. The riff and melody throughout ‘The Upside Down’ is a perfect example of this, with its upbeat fast tempo and this mood continues onto ‘Running Away’, which is my favourite of the two. I could play this on repeat 100 times, because it’s so catchy and makes me feel like I’m sixteen again. As much as I love how many pop punk bands there are today, there’s nothing better than hearing the older, underrated bands still playing the game, as passionately as they did 10-15 years back.
Like many pop punk records, there’s always one song paying homage to the band’s hometown. ‘These Streets’ is that song here, and while it’s musically different from the rest of Masquerade, the lyrics here are powerful, timeless and easily relatable. The nostalgic guitars return on ‘There’s No Basement at the Alamo!’ and the end of this track feels like it’s the end of the album. However, it seems Mest felt like 11 tracks weren’t quite enough, so ‘The Silence Left Behind’ completes Masquerade on a powerful, emotional note. The guitar strums here are beautiful, penned with some emotive lyrics before hearing the band smash it out together for one last time.
While we all inevitably have to grow up, even bands (hey, we’re all only human after all), there’s no harm in becoming aroused by feelings of nostalgia. As we’re all aware, the early 2000’s plays a huge part of pop punk history and it’s fucking great that Mest are still alive and making music they love for the fans. Masquerade will take you on a journey of emotions, and fill you up with positive hopes, dreams and a sense of acceptance for life as it is. I would absolutely recommend giving this record a go to anyone who grew up on pop punk, but I’d also recommend this to anyone who’s going through a rough patch in their life because I guarantee you’ll feel much better in the long run.
Mest – Masquerade tracklisting:
- Dead End Street
- Almost Forgot
- I Am Right Here
- The Numbers
- Don’t Worry Son
- The Upside Down
- Running Away
- These Streets
- There’s No Basement at the Alamo!
- The Silence Left Behind