Fans of Battles, Foals and Vampire Weekend pay attention. Maps and Atlases are officially your new favourite band.
Barsuk Records, 2012
8.0 / 10.0
I’m not entirely sure what ‘math rock’ means. But apparently, Maps and Atlases are a math rock band from Chicago, Illinois. Their latest album is called Beware and Be Grateful. It’s attracted some mixed reviews from 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 of 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, one that’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. I’m a firm believer that music is always more fun when everybody can learn the words. Those two tracks aren’t the only surprises on the album either. There’s plenty more on Beware and Be Grateful ready, waiting to be discovered.
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 into this album, and they deserve as much credit for it as they can get. It’s a brilliant ride – it’s rich, intricate, and memorable, full of erratic, blindingly-fast, dissonant guitar-playing, clever lyrics and beautiful melodies. Get into it.
Check out my personal blog: Songs for the Nerdy.