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Thomas Arsenault, better known as Mas Ysa, released Seraph on August 7th. This is his debut, full-length album; but from the concise and polished sound, you would never have guessed that. Granted, under Mas Ysa, he has released singles and the EP WORTH. Mas Ysa has steadily earned praise over the past couple years for combining danceable beats with earnest lyrics. This led him to tour with bands such as EMA and Hundred Waters. And with this new album, Mas Ysa will be at the forefront.

As humans, we love categorizing. With music, genres serve that purpose. And if someone makes something new, we just glue together some more cardboard for a fresh box. On Seraph, genre needs to be thrown out the window. The album is intricate, diverse and borrows themes from various genres. Mr. Arsenault uses a firm, yet steady hand when weaving all the songs and album components together. As Mas Ysa, he is able to create dynamics while keeping the overarching mood of the album intact. While there are danceable beats, there are times steady rhythm takes a back seat; while he can croon in a falsetto, he isn't afraid to let out a fractured chest voice; while there are plucked acoustic guitars and jazzy horns, there are twitching electronics forged in the belly of the inferno. And it works. It all works.

Apocolyptic, dissonant synths and electronics scrape along a syncopated beat on album opener, 'Seraph'. But with the snarl in the vocals, this song is post-punk for the EDM generation. It is grungey and rough. Yet, Animal Collective style backing vocals break the pattern, letting the listener know not to make assumptions. Then the single 'Margarita' arrives. It's an electro-pop power ballad with a steady beat, clean keys, and a pan-flute line that just rocks. Lyrics like, "I've been down for so long/ And no moon is proud to be a sun," show the poetic prowess at work in this album as well. This song also showcases the brilliant use of dynamics. Instruments, sounds, ebb and flow. There is great use of near silence then a heavy synth note drops like a hammer. This song stirs up something primal.

'Suffer' takes a driving beat, pulsing piano, and hard strummed acoustic guitar for a ride. There's a strange high-pitched melody line being played on some type of electronic instrument, and it's lovely. An experimental vibe is woven in the mix of a song that steadfastly rides a thin line of piano-pop and dance-floor, electro boogie. Then there's 'Service' that is all electro goodness. It has precise repetition from the moogs, but showcases Mas Ysa's mastery of beats. With beats so prevalent and jumping patterns (not necessarily rhythms), it is an accomplishment that you never feel out of sync. And with no vocals on the track, it stands out as a nice transition piece.

Seraph is an album meant to make you feel. Don't let the beats and strong compositions fool you. This album has heartache and yearning. 'Garden' is a tender track that is woozy and lush. Mr. Arsenault's voice wavers, containing the ship in a bottle. "I know it's just Earth/ I know the hands of this clock don't / point out your worth." Stark. But not heavy handed. The album closer, 'Don't Make', goes to show that some things are worth waiting for. It's a tragic, acoustic ballad about love, heartache, and the pains of dealing. No electronics. They would distract from lyrics like, "If you find someone/ you really love/ damn it, let them go/ 'Cause the hardest part/ of a broken heart/ is helping it heal slow."

As Mas Ysa, Mr. Arsenault has shown that putting yourself in a box is not necessary to make a cohesive album. On Seraph, cohesiveness comes from the honest effort in combining styles to make something unique and personal. And that is the key to this album's greatness. The sincerity. Regarding the album not just being about the beats, Mr. Arsenault said, "...the truth just sounds different." Buying a dozen roses for your love is romantic. But sometimes, plucking a dandelion from between the cracks of the sidewalk, "just because", is transcendent. And Seraph is one of the prettiest damn dandelions in quite some time.

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