MATHIEU SANTOS. PHOTO COURTESY OF LEIA JOSPE
Ra Ra Riot's agile bassist, choral crooner and founder, Mathieu Santos, strikes out on his own for his recently released Massachusetts 2010 solo LP (available now on Barsuk Records). The second single, "Northern Mentality," listens like a master class in chamber-pop devotion à la Paul Simon, blending original songwriting with painterly tones. It all makes perfect sense, since Santos was classically trained as just that: a painter.
Massachusetts 2010 (titled after his home state) is the perfect road-trip album. It's a project that has the temperament of a dog hanging from a car door window, basking in the wind and barking at seagulls, and could easily find its place as soundtrack to a sequel of Rushmore. It's the kind of carefully collaged atmospheric fuzziness we've all come to appreciate in Santos' work, only this time it comes off as less filled-to-the-brim and more decidedly ethereal.
Recorded in his friend's rural New Jersey home, "Northern Mentality" rides a stripped-down, vintage island breeze. The track, with its percussive kick and bassline, eases a tender, echoing chorus into funky territory. Closing things off with a quacking improv-sax, the catchy clap-your-hands single sounds as arrestingly off-center as it does like skillfully plotted world pop. Welcome to Graceland—ahem!—Massachusetts.
MASSACHUSETTS 2010 IS AVAILABLE NOW. FOR MORE ON MATHIEU SANTOS, VISIT HIS TWITTER.