Release Date: Jul 24, 2015
Record label: Downtown
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
On his full-length debut Seraph, Montreal-born, Lake Hill-based singer/songwriter Thomas Arsenault manages to convincingly combine his penchant for heart-on-your-sleeve lyricism and dance floor oriented-beats to craft an almost-perfect collection of nostalgia-tinged pop songs. It's been nearly two years since the release of his breakout single "Why," and all the elements that managed to grab the attention of the music media and fans alike are still present, but perhaps a little more polished, showcasing restraint. That isn't to say that his explosive vocals and four-to-the-floor synths have been removed — on the contrary, they're all the more present and essential — but they're tempered by the softer side Arsenault demonstrated on earlier cuts such as "Years" and "Yes," off of last year's excellent Worth EP.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Thomas Arsenault, better known as Mas Ysa, released Seraph on August 7th. This is his debut, full-length album; but from the concise and polished sound, you would never have guessed that. Granted, under Mas Ysa, he has released singles and the EP WORTH.
When playing live, Thomas Arsenault, better known as Mas Ysa, can appear lonely up there by himself with all his equipment. The setup may give the impression that his music is filled with cloudy electronics, but what he really wants to be is a bona fide rock star. He sings with the conviction of Springsteen, belting his heart out every time. His first EP, last year’s Worth, made a strong introduction, blending sparse instrumentals with larger, soaring, bleeding-heart tracks.
Before Thomas Arsenault even had a note of music available online, he turned eyes and ears with gripping, show-stealing solo performances while opening for Deerhunter in 2013. He appeared to fit the new archetype for super-sincere singer-songwriters, hunched over synths rather than an acoustic guitar, forgoing stationary strumming for something as emotive physically as it is vocally. The elite in this small class all have a defining characteristic that comes close to being a superpower—Tom Krell's facility with R&B, James Blake's composure, Autre Ne Veut's dramatic flair, and so forth.
The opening title track to Mas Ysa’s new album Seraph is anything but focused. It is a palpably dissonant track which jumps from idea to idea without properly settling for more than a moment. It is hard to tell from this dizzying opener just how talented the brainchild behind Mas Ysa, Thomas Arsenault, really is, but give the album a few listens and that becomes abundantly clear.
This electronic musician's debut is best at its extremes—"Don't Make" is as gentle as "Margarita" and "Seraph" are dramatic and pummeling, respectively. Too much of the record comprises exhausting dancehall ballads, however, with thumping digital beats that may induce frightening Dance Dance Revolution flashbacks in some listeners. (www.masysa.com) .
The debut album from Montreal-born composer Thomas Arsenault, aka Mas Ysa, is difficult to categorize, as varied as the places he's called home, which include Brazil and Brooklyn. It pulls inspiration from everywhere into songs that sound like the sharpest of sound collages yet adhere to pop mores that lend them glorious accessibility. It's like the sonic equivalent of a drug-induced hallucination that bestows more clarity than it washes away.