Maps and Atlases: Beware and Be Grateful

Maps and Atlases, Beware and Be GratefulMaps and Atlases: Beware and Be Grateful
In addition to rock and roll journalism, we here at Surviving the Golden Age are also avid amateur cartographers. Rand McNally be damned, what were most excited about is the Chicago quartet Maps and Atlases upcoming release Beware and Be Grateful.
The topography of Beware is similar to that of the Hindu Kush, high plateau doesn’t quite do the album justice, because that would imply something of a plain. With Maps and Atlases one finds himself mounting one epic peak after another in quick succession. The pace over the ten tracks can be tiring, not for the band who seem indefatigable, but for the audience as we try to keep up and digest everything presented during the course of the trek. The intricacy of the individual tracks provide a wealth to get lost in, comparable to surveying the cascade of an ancient range as it spreads out before you, and from the off time percussion to the arpeggio melodies, (and even on downer tracks like “Fever” or “Remote and Dark Years,”) I get the nervous impulse to dance.
I would be hard pressed to try and shove Maps into any type of genre. There are definite elements of pop’s sensibility, rock’s inability to care what you think, and mathrock’s impressive musicianship to contend with. Lyrically and vocally, Maps and Atlases can’t equal the kinetics of their sound, but song subjects fall far from kitsch and while Dave Davison’s vocals grate at moments, I can’t really consider it a weakness.
Beware and Be Grateful is a fun, fast paced album that is a pleasure to listen to. I would have liked to have heard the group mine some depths to get to darker emotions, but I can not rightly fault them for not including a sad bastard dirge either. Perhaps from the heights of Beware’s mountainous peaks, one can’t help but see sunshine all around them.
Rating: 6.0/10
MP3: Maps and Atlases “Vampires”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! Vinyl