Too Far. Too Fast. Too Soon (Spinster)
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Feb. 6, 2004
MasonicToo Far. Too Fast. Too Soon (Spinster) Masonic's second effort is the most remarkable handmade pop album to come out of Austin in years. Together with new singer Leah Bogan and bassist Mike Norfleet, the three Mason brothers successfully distill the warm buzz of their 2001 debut, Never Stood a Chance, into an even more potent mix of hooks, sentimentality, and beery energy. A big part of what distinguishes Masonic is their ability to assimilate hints of psychedelia and New Wave into a solid indie pop paradigm without reducing them to kitschy contrivances. They only bring in the theremin, Moog, and Rhodes piano when those implements tangibly service their songs. Masonic writes some great ones, too. The brash morning-after kiss-off "Nothing but a Good Time" is driven by the eternal promise of Friday night, while "Don't You Know Anything" finds Bogan conveying the stoic detachment endemic to decaying relationships with icy, Nico-like precision. "End of Summer," a chlorine-scented slice of melancholia custom-made for last goodbyes, conjures up the same sort of beautiful sadness you hear in classic summer pop hits like ELO's "Telephone Line." The quintet's minimalist version of the Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby" strips away the elaborate harmonies and production of the original, leaving only the bare-boned sentiment, but somehow it still works. Too Far. Too Fast. Too Soon is smart without being overthought and emotive without being overwrought. It's pop that doesn't scream, "Hey, I'm pop!" That's how they get you.