February 6, 2003

Test Spin: Mass. Hysteria

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I’m sure you’ve seen it before; an all male group hoping to boost its appeal by enlisting a dynamic female lead. Yet Mass. Hysteria’s Rachel Eliot is neither dynamic nor the least bit appealing. Her breathy operatic voice is so awful that the greater portion of the disc is unbearable. I couldn’t help laughing at her ridiculously over the top vibrato. And so it seems Mass. Hysteria suffers from a problem that plagues many groups these days; the epidemic of the talentless singer.

This is really too bad because the rest of the band is actually pretty good. There are great rhythms, guitar, and brass on songs like

“Close to Home” and “If I Ran Away.” “Overboard,” about a jilted lover has an excellent trumpet solo, and on “Picture Perfect,” created a smooth and perfect blend of rock guitar and raggae beats. But all that gets lost in the raw and off-key vocals, although this may have to do with the low-cost production. After all, an expensive, glossy voice-over can make almost anyone sound halfway decent (see Britney Spears and Kelly Osbourne).

Besides a lousy soloist, Mass. Hysteria’s material doesn’t offer much of anything original and their lyrics are incredibly simple. Still, the classic ska instrumentals in between the singer’s moaning are fun and catchy. My advice to this potentially good band is to ditch their lead vocalist. They deserve a singer that is up to par with their performance level. Other groups have done so and as a result, went on to achieve astounding success.

Archived article by Sophia Asare