19 April 2012
Review: MAPS AND ATLASES - Beware and Be Grateful
Album: Beware and Be Grateful
Label: FatCat Records
Genre: Indie Rock/Experimental
Release date: 16 April 2012
I'm not entirely sure what 'math rock' means. (Shouldn't it be spelt 'maths rock'?) But apparently, Maps and Atlases are a math rock band from Chicago, Illinois. Their latest album is called Beware and Be Grateful. It's been getting some mixed reviews in the indie music blogosphere, but I don't think you should let that put you off. Beware and Be Grateful is an immensely clever, complicated record, with boundless energy.
Everything starts off with 'Old & Gray', a fantastic song, which slowly layers multiple melodies and guitar riffs on top of each other - but instead of reaching a climax, the song kind winds down into a muted, dissonant and entirely unexpected closer. This seamlessly transitions into the next song, 'Fever', on which lead vocalist Dave Davison declares rather ominously, "All that you know of this is what you have heard". It's a thrilling way to open an album; it'll certainly make you sit up and pay attention.
Other highlights are the jangly, upbeat, Vampire Weekend-style song, 'Winter', and the album's longest track, the Afro-beat inspired 'Silver Self', which is full of "na na na" and "whoo ooh ooh" lyrics, just perfect for singing along to. Music is always more fun when everybody can learn the words. The tracks 'Old Ash', 'Bugs' and 'Be Three Years Old' are also quite fun to listen to. Safe to say, there's plenty of surprises on this record, ready for you to discover.
So basically, don't let some poor reviews scare you off. Maps and Atlases have done a great job on Beware and Be Grateful. They've obviously put heaps of effort in this album, and they deserve as much credit for it as they can get. It's a brilliant ride.
Final recommendation: Beware and Be Grateful is a rich, intricate, and memorable record, full of erratic, blindingly-fast, dissonant guitar-playing, clever lyrics and beautiful melodies. It's a pleasure to listen to. If you're a fan of Battles, Foals or Vampire Weekend, you'll probably enjoy this album. Get into it.
Maps & Atlases - 'Fever' by Fat Cat Records