Releasing your first record is a typically nervy experience and often the first impression is vitally important. Unfortunately for Masakichi, their debut EP ‘Hummingbird’ doesn’t get off to a flying start, however once the awkward introductions are over, the record blossoms into a stunning series of indie-pop songs that are definitely worth sticking around for.
‘Paper Cuts’ is a disappointingly slow opener, consisting of a lonely synth beneath a meandering vocal arrangement that is a little too wavering to have any lasting impact. Fortunately, following track ‘Spring’ brings the EP to life with its driving rhythm, bass-heavy choruses and haunting vocal melodies, and this high standard stays consistent throughout the rest of the record. ‘Hummingbird’ picks up the pace and delivers a catchy, uplifting chorus before ‘The Smallest Light’ proves that, contrary to the opening track, the band can produce gentle, soothing ballads to a remarkably high standard, as well as anthemic pop songs.
Vocalist Hannah Cartwright’s impressive ability and interesting arrangements gives ‘Hummingbird’ a vast range of emotions and offers Masakichi a distinct sound that separates the band from its peers. Cartwright’s tone is uncommon in the indie-pop genre, as her smoky texture would seem more suited to alternative rock, but this fusion of styles adds a unique flavour to the music. On ‘The Smallest Light’ Cartwright alters her delivery by adding folk-like quirks and accents to the arrangements, drawing comparisons to Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries. This enhances the emotion of the song and prevents the record from becoming stale by adding variations in tone and effect.
Masakichi’s indie-pop achieves the ideal balance between accessibility and musical integrity. The catchy melodies and powerful choruses should attract a wide audience while the alterations in time signatures, variation in tempos and emotions, and the depth in the instrumentation provides plenty to satisfy technical music fans. ‘Hummingbird’ is an excellent introduction to this London-based three piece and a highly successful debut record.
‘Hummingbird’ by Masakichi is out on now on Fierce Panda Records.
Words by Mark Johnson (@Testwood)