Maps & Atlases | Beware And Be Grateful

Barsuk (2012)
By ANNIE ZALESKI  |  April 17, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars


Early in their career, Maps & Atlases reveled in being math-rock whizzes fond of sparkly percussion, frantic tempos, and finger-tapped guitars. Gradually, however, the Chicago band channeled their love of textured sounds and corrugated riffs into more streamlined indie rock— culminating in the tropical feel and Vampire Weekend-isms of 2010's Perch Patchwork. The band's second album, Beware and Be Grateful, is even calmer. But despite the darkly romantic '80s-Britpop quaver of songs like "Remote and Dark Years," Grateful isn't exactly straightforward. If anything, the panoramic scope of the arrangements, abundance of layered voices, and varied instrumentation call to mind the clatter of avant-pop troupe Dirty Projectors. "Fever" combines new-wave signifiers (breezy keyboards, electric drums) with chattering riffs and a laissez-faire tempo; "Be Three Years Old" merges squirrelly percussion with island-vacation guitars; and "Silver Self" combines a cappella folky harmonies with chunky funk rhythms. Dave Davison's peculiar slurred-soul vocals, which resemble Cee Lo Green with a head cold, are ideal for this sonic stew, even if they become grating over the course of an entire album. In fact, that's Beware and Be Grateful's main flaw: an occasional quirk overload.

Related: Various Artists | Casual Victim Pile: Austin 2010, Bearstronaut | Broken Handclaps, Avi Buffalo | Avi Buffalo, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Arts, CD reviews,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   WHAT'S F'N NEXT? FIDLAR  |  March 19, 2013
    Ask FIDLAR bassist Brandon Schwartzel some basic questions about his band, and his answers reflect more than a bit of weariness with the rigmarole of publicity and music journalism.
  •   THE EMPOWERMENT OF KATE NASH  |  March 05, 2013
    Singer-songwriter Kate Nash was recently named a Global Ambassador for the Because I Am a Girl initiative, which aims to give females in developing countries the opportunity for a better life.
    In 2001, Desaparecidos were just another band formed by Conor Oberst, already a veteran of the Omaha music scene at the tender age of 21.
  •   THERE’S HOPE FOR THE VACCINES  |  January 23, 2013
    Every few years, a guitar band forms and swaggers up the charts on the strength of music that captures the UK's youthful zeitgeist.
  •   THE BRIGHT LIGHTS OF ELLIE GOULDING  |  January 18, 2013
    Long before Ellie Goulding hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in summer 2012 with "Lights" — a starry-eyed dance-floor trifle with subtle neo-disco beats and sleek keyboard burbles — the singer-songwriter was a star in her native England.

 See all articles by: ANNIE ZALESKI