Chicago Math Rockers Maps & Atlases return with a polished follow up to their shuddery debut (which was so low-fi in parts that it was only sung in vowels) and they’ve got melody on their minds.
Opener ‘Old and Gray’ sets a welcome tone and builds precise textures and harmonies before jarring neatly into ‘Fever’, which arrives feeling like a ray of sun punching through the clouds. There is an engaging electronic edge which brings comparisons with TV on the Radio and Cut Copy into play. Lead singer David Davison displays vocals that feel effortless but don’t scrimp on passion and these contribute to an overall feeling of a bolder, brighter and more downright musical experience.
After these giddy opening heights ‘Winter’ and ‘Remote and Dark Years’ feel more Soft Rock than Math Rock, in a Noah and the Whale pleasant-but-safe, radio-friendly kind of way. ‘Silver Self’ chugs along like Hot Chip and Vampire Weekend on a stag do and signals a shift into big drums, big chorus and big pop on the highlight track which, with (un)deadly timing, is called ‘Vampires’.
The remainder of the album is jangly and joyful as it is interesting and engaging. A giant leap from their craggy and often obtuse debut, Maps & Atlases could well be plotting a course to the mainstream.