HomeMusicBoston’s Mad Painter Relapses “Illusion”

    Boston’s Mad Painter Relapses “Illusion”

    Boston’s Mad Painter immediately reminded me of classic Uriah Heep. Their new single “Illusion” has the classic Hammond organ roar defining the sound of those English greats. The sound never deviates from that core template. Lead singer and songwriter Alex Gitlin doesn’t have the late David Byron’s pipes but compensates for his comparative lack of vocal firepower with the same theatrical sense. They’ve played a wide assortment of venues in the Beantown area and beyond receiving a rapturous response from audiences and their original material possesses a strong individual character. It’s no small thing considering they wear their influences on their sleeve.


    The song takes off at a gallop and keeps that pace. Mad Painter, however, never rushes the performance but, instead, integrates the track’s assorted elements into a considered and fully fleshed out whole. I enjoyed how ably the band incorporates organ into the mix and eliminates the traditional “hole” in an one guitar band’s sound. Each instrument shares the spotlight in the final tally rather than one part of the song overshadowing others. It’s the sound of a band who entered the studio cognizant of their aims and confident in their ability to match the sum of their ambition.

    Gitlin delivers his vocals with attentiveness and passion. The lyrical content recalls classic Uriah Heep, as well, without ever sounding like a pale imitation. Amateurish bands often craft vocal melodies that follow the guitar rather than engaging in meaningful counterpoint, but Mad Painter does not. The vocal melody complements the musical arrangement rather than studiously following along and it lends added drama to an already fantastic performance. Their use of backing vocals further enhances the tune.

    The song’s four-minute duration is ideal for the track. It allows them wiggle room to stretch out as players though self-indulgence is far from the finished product. It’s a band chock full of capable players who don’t treat the retro sound like a butterfly pinned under glass but, instead, find enduring value in the form as a relevant musical vehicle. The guitar work is especially potent for me and duels with the organ work in a classic and accessible manner.

    It isn’t difficult to understand why Mad Painter has generated so much momentum with this throwback approach. There are scores of music lovers out there, young and old, craving the authentic and grounded sound they offer. You hear no pandering or calculation in the way they attack “Illusion”. The lyrical content may be a bit general and obscure for some listeners, but there’s universality in the song’s themes that listeners will recognize.

    Mad Painter hasn’t been together long, but they’ve seized on an audience pleasing sound that works well in the studio. The concept underlying their work and presentation has room for growth and it’s obvious they are primed for further evolution. “Illusion” recalls the past, without a doubt, but it also shows the continued vitality of the musical approach they’ve latched onto, and we can expect much more from this five piece in the future. 

    Trace Whittaker

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