(6 Music Festival 2016 flavoured!) Single Review: Steve Mason – Planet Sizes

By on Friday, 22nd January 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

While I am certainly not saying that he wasn’t adequately celebrated while he was alive, one of the biggest lessons I think we should take away from David Bowie’s passing is that we should truly acknowledge the gifts of the greatest musical talents we idolise, whose music we hold dear in our hearts, and while they’re still living. We’re all mortal, and one day too soon, it will be too late.

And one such person I wish that would get far more attention than already does is my subject for today. Scottish singer/songwriter Steve Mason used to be most famous primarily as a founding member of The Beta Band, then pioneering a genre that was then not even termed folktronica. Since The Beta Band’s disbanding in 2004, Mason has had a moderately successful solo career, having unleashed his debut album ‘Boys Outside’ in 2010, followed by ‘Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time’ in 2013. Having my interest piqued by the effortless folky soul of ‘All Come Down’, I’ve been keeping tabs closely, ever keen to hear more from him.

Earlier this month to start off 2016 on a positive note, he announced his third solo outing, ‘Meet the Humans’, will see a late February release. Coinciding with the new album news, he also unveiled new single ‘Planet Sizes’, and it seems too perfect to be writing about such a song the week that a possible ninth planet in our solar system has been discovered by Caltech astronomers.

In my mind, Mason’s politically-charged double album ‘Monkey Minds…’ would be a tough act to follow, especially in the wake of Britain’s current political climate, not to mention the entire world’s. Since that last album, Mason has had a change of heart, at least with respect to his songwriting process, and this new, simplified approach is crystal clear upon listening to the new single. In a different yet oddly similar guise to that of ‘All Come Down’, the genius of ‘Planet Sizes’ is its driving melody, paired handily with Mason’s sweepingly positive vocals in the chorus.

He’s always been a deft hand lyrically, and he doesn’t disappoint here. The verse “know my 6 times table / I learned where the planets lie / I know my planet sizes / the universe makes me cry” suggests that he has an intellectual understanding of how the world works through the practical (maths and science). However, he wants to go against the grain, beyond what he’s been told is possible, beyond the planet sizes that are accepted as fact, concluding, “the universe is mine” to have. What an inspiring concept.

Even the single’s animated promo video is another take on (relative) simplicity. Coloured, indistinguishable blobs that turn out to be humans toil apathetically on earth while planets and constellations play and dance above society’s heads. Well, until society finally gets the hint and joins them. How many of this world’s ills would be solved if we all stopped long enough to be kind to one another and dream of the positive energies that lie beyond our usual realm of comprehension? (In his own way, isn’t that what Bowie did for most of his career too?)

9/10

‘Meet the Humans’, the third album from Steve Mason, will be released on the 26th of February on Domino Records. Mason will be playing Saturday night at Motion at the 6 Music Festival 2016 in Bristol next month. For past articles on him on TGTF, go here.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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