Mas Rapido!

Dumb Is King!

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For a duo with such a knack for clever pop tunes, naming an album Dumb Is King! might seem like an act of anger or frustration, and that seemingly bears itself out at least a little bit on Mas Rapido!'s third album. Donna Esposito and Frank Bednash haven't lost their touch for pop songcraft on their third album under the Mas Rapido! moniker (they previously worked together in Cowboy & Spingirl and Toothpaste 2000), and their latest drummer, Eric Micali, fits just fine between Esposito's efficient and full-bodied guitar figures and Bednash's buoyant basslines. Esposito and Bednash's harmonies are real and satisfying and the tunes split the difference between '60s-style melodies and punky enthusiasm while making the most of both influences. But though it's hard to point out a bad tune on Dumb Is King!, some feel a lot more like padding than load-bearing parts of the album's framework ("Feelings" is better than its better-known namesake, but it's still below Mas Rapido!'s usual standards, and "Monster Magnet" is a top-heavy would-be epic guitar workout that peters out before it's over), and the album begins to wear out its welcome before it comes to a close. This set of songs simply doesn't need to be a full 59-minutes long. You can chalk it up to talent and resourcefulness that Mas Rapido! managed to postpone their sophomore slump until their third album, and by no means is Dumb Is King! a crushing disappointment, but after two albums of cool punky-poppy bliss, this does lower their batting average by being good instead of great, though fans of hooks, melodies, and spunky energy will still find it worth their time.

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