Arranged on a circular beat and yet driven primarily by verses over percussion, you could say that there’s an experimental bend to the new single “Masquerade” from Sonic Rade and be entirely correct. However, what separates the avant-garde stylization of this song’s structure from the pure noise of the American underground today has everything to do with vocal prowess and almost nothing to do with surface-level frills, as would be the case with the majority of this group’s contemporaries.
Where others would wash this mix in psychedelic tones and understated nods to postmodernity, Sonic Rade prefers to take an old-school approach to the rhythm and tone of “Masquerade,” further cluing us into what matters to them as artists and performers – and, in a sense, what means nothing to their brand. Gone is the filler and pomp that has become quite commonplace in pop and alternative rock in this single; in their place, we find an organic harmony and a hook built more on charismatic presence than anything else, which instantly makes this one of the more intriguing and provocatively stylish songs of its kind to land on my desk this year.
Putting harmonies at the forefront of a mix isn’t a new concept in this genre, but when Sonic Rade does it, the whole process feels like an awakening for their sound and everything it can bring to the table. There’s certainly a surrealism element that extends itself from the lyrics to the rhythm of the music, but it’s not overwhelmingly obvious in comparison to the other content I’ve been reviewing over the past few months.
I love how forward-moving this beat is and that there’s never any resistance from the lead vocal no matter who has the mic in their hands, being that fluidity is the key ingredient for magic in melodic songcraft, I’ve got a feeling that this is just a small sampling of the power that this group can potentially put forth in the studio. This is relatively simple when you break it down to its nuts and bolts, and all things considered, that makes it the perfect jumping-off point for this crew.
I think that “Masquerade,” while structured to be a sophisticated piece emblematic of who these players are – and, perhaps more importantly, who they want to become – is still quite the smooth-riding rocker on the part of Sonic Rade, and its greater purpose is to advertise the emotion that these artists can collectively produce when they’re firing on all cylinders.
There’s plenty of time for them to develop a bit more, but the brilliant passion that each of these guys have at the microphone is telling of the future they have ahead of them as a band. It’s easy to be a discerning alternative rock fan in 2023 given all of the immense talent you can find just scanning the FM dial, but to me, I think this is a group anyone with a taste for smart hooks could fall in love with.
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