Review Summary: Maps and Atlases are back with a new, lovable sound.
Every so often, for better or worse, bands decide to revamp their style. Whether they are looking to mature their sound or trying to make a statement. Take The Sound of Animals Fighting; their shockingly good debut release, Tiger And The Duke
, was placed more in the progressive/post-hardcore genre, yet today they are reaching (too hard at times) for a more experimental sound (and you be the judge of how that worked out). Now, remember the first Maps and Atlases release, Tree, Swallows, Houses
? It was a spastic collection of progressive/ indie-rock with a touch of a sound that was so natural and joyous. This time around, Maps and Atlases delve into a different sound that contains less finger-tapping wankery, and more of an earthy elegance. You Me And The Mountain
doesn't exactly change Maps and Atlases' genre, but it definitely turns heads compared to a listen of Tree, Swallows, Houses.
The first recognizable detail to You Me and The Mountain
is that it is rather tame. The riffs are digestible and the pace is adequate. Also, what seems to be the underlying theme is perfecting harmonies. From "Witch" to the fifth and final song, "Ted Zancha," the harmonies are something to rave about. "Witch" begins advantageously behind clicking percussion while the Peter Frampton-esque vocal/guitar effect is utilized. Descending scales run a muck while holding that true-natured Maps and Atlases technicality. But as I mentioned before, this album rarely takes form to songs like "Every Place is a House," and instead simply takes off the edge that it once had. Personally, I think it's an improvement that they, in essence, stripped down their style into something new and fresh.
From their first work, we knew Maps and Atlases were weird and quirky and "You Me And The Mountain" highlights that style with its sporadic tendencies. Vocally, the same odd vocals gloss over the album. While you can tell that Dave Davidson's voice has progressed, the change is very subtle. But perhaps the biggest change is in the percussion work. Tambourines, vibraphones, snare clicks, and tempo blocks among other instruments add an unusual, yet refreshing sound. It is the kind of feeling that makes "Daily News" and "Ted Zancha" so brilliant. "Ted Zancha" is a defining closing song. Between the impeccable bass riffs, beautiful tapping guitar riffs, and gorgeous vocal work, it's hard not to be impressed by the short-lived album's closer. "Ted Zancha" is a highlight reel from Maps and Atlases complete collection and specifically You Me And The Mountain
. The closing minute of "Ted Zancha" is filled with vocal harmonies to make you blush and a bridge to make you wet your britches. Superfluous drumming leads the scale-oriented bridge into a peaceful, serene silence.
Was Maps and Atlases change of style a change for the better? Well it is awfully hard to say no. You Me And The Mountain
glows with maturity and growth in addition to consistent musicianship. Their deletion of constant meticulous riffs paid off for the better. Instead of a rather overwhelming feel, You Me And The Mountain
is a steadily paced gem. The only real issues from my point of view are the uninspired lyrics and occasional moments that the songs sound similar to one another. Even so, I can't stop listening to this jovial album. For now, Maps and Atlases have pushed their boundaries once again and expanded deeper into an unexplored style. Until their next album, I would say You Me And The Mountain
will certainly be played on a weekly basis. It's that addicting.