Nostalgic delights from Canadian songster Jason Ball

Hailing from the land of beavers and maple trees, Canadian musical journeyman Jason Ball, aka Hopeful Monster, returns with his second album Metatasking. After a six-year hiatus, in which much gigging was done in a number of different guises, HM may have gained more experience, but no immediate cynicism.

My initial impression of Metatasking was that I was being beaten by the bastard child of The Beach Boys and Beck, weaving away from dreamy fists of honey, with punches of sound washing over my ears like a lazy river of chocolate. My mind began harking back to a more innocent time when I didn't need to be aware of my sugar intake; halcyon days when I would dance naked in the dusk next to a speaker blurting out mid tempo riffs laced together with liquorice shoelaces and 'mind expanding' pop poetry. After a few more listens, I have to admit, my initial impression hasn't changed.

The songs are well-produced, hypnotic soundscapes with some nice changes of pace initially. It is comparable with much of Beck's back catalogue, although is neither lyrically or sonically as avant-garde. The lyrics appear trippy and twee, although I detected an air of cynicism reminiscent of HM's compatriots Eels. The clue, I suppose, is in the band's name. It has some of the bouncing synth of Grandaddy, though is nowhere near as lyrically fraught whilst, particularly towards the second-half of the album, it drifts towards the Beach Boys when they were at their dreamiest.

As the album progressed I found that some of the songs were in danger of meandering into obscurity, but overall it's a strong piece of work. If you want to be reminded what it felt like to play with Lego, prior to life taking you in its grip and nothing ever seeming like quite so much fun after, or to prance around in a summer of ridiculous clothes as a post- GCSE sixteen year old, then this album is a perfect accompaniment. Not quite life imitating art, but the beginning was more fun than the end.

Stephen Jones

Originally posted here