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CD Review: Maps & Atlases

CD Review: Maps & Atlases

Maps and Atlases found their beginnings at Columbia in 2004 and have recorded two EPs prior to Perch Patchwork -work that garnered comparisons to TV on the Radio and Deerhoof. For those who haven't heard the band's previous work, you'll find a group who is certainly talented, inventing their own brand of indie folk pop complete with custom guitar playing methods. Though "Perch" is catchy as hell, none of the songs stand out as particularly special.

Instead Perch Patchwork comes off sounding as if producer Jason Cupp manipulated the band's signature quirk into a palatable mainstream framework that could potentially alienate old fans while attracting a new and perhaps less indie base of listeners.

David Davison's unique and brassy vocals highlight the group's folk routes on an album clearly about breaking up. The second track on the album, "The Charm" finds Davison crooning "I don't think there is a sound that I hate more than the sound of your voice, when you say that you don't love me anymore." The tragic lyrics continue against a backdrop of ironically upbeat music throughout the album. While Erin Elders' acclaimed slap guitar playing still sounds interesting, many of the songs on Perch Patchwork sound too similar, for instance "Solid Ground" and "Pigeon." Having a common thread or theme on an album is certainly necessary, but Maps and Atlases may have pushed theirs a touch too far on this most recent effort.

Despite all these criticisms, one would be remiss to deny pop lure of the tunes on Perch Patchwork. Regardless of their similarities, the album-as one big song-gets caught in a listener's head after a single play through. The blend of folk and pop is almost pastoral and reminiscent of the group's mid-western roots. If not an album to absolutely love, Maps and Atlases have created a piece that at least has a little something for everyone.

Perch Patchwork comes out on Barsuk Records June 29th 2010. Catch Maps and Atlases opening for Frightened Rabbit at the Metro this Saturday, May 8th at 8pm. - Erin Keane

Published: May 07, 2010 |

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