Review Summary: A solid debut from ex-Promise Ring and Dismemberment Plan members that will have you wanting more.
The story is the same for every band when they break up. A band receives high praise and a huge following with constant touring and memorable albums. Said band breaks up and one or more members of that band form a new band with a different style, different sound, and a different mind-set on making music. Fans of the older band scream “BULL***!” and hate the new band because it’s not a remake. Band keeps pressing on and makes a name for themselves by doing what they want and getting a new audience who are more appreciative. It’s happened to too many bands to count. The same story is true of Maritime, a band formed by ex-Promise Ring members Davey von Bohlen and Dan Didier and ex-Dismemberment Plan member Eric Axelson. Coming onto the scene with the “Adios” EP in 2003, the band strayed far away from their previous works but created something as good as what their previous bands had made. The following year they released their debut album “Glass Floor”, which showcased the familiar song-writing talents of von Bohlen and Dan Didier, but with a new flair.
I must first state that the album is what it is. It contains no complicated riffs, beats, or song structures. It is an indie-pop record in every sense. But it is one of those records that will have you humming the songs even after one listen. Kicking off with the slow acoustic guitar driven “The Window Is The Door” the album sounds like it’ll be the usual melancholy, “emo” that The Promise Ring was known for. Not the best song to start off with as it is too slow and has very little build-up, but the next track “Sleep Around” starts to set up the rest of the album. Leading in from the previous track by transitioning the programmed drum beat into a real drum set, “Sleep Around” is a fun, pop song that shows off the type of music you will hear for at least half of the album. With bouncy, piano chords and simple, drum beats leading it, the song builds up with some simple riffing and an upbeat horn section in the chorus.
The standout track, and first single, “Someone Has To Die” follows. This song features the catchiest chorus and guitar melody you will hear in a while. Incorporating an organ and saxophone brings more out of this song than just a simple guitar/bass/drums arrangement could have. Both emotional and lively, the song shows off what Maritime are best at: making a straight forward pop song with no bull*** to show off with.
The next couple of tracks, however, do not really do anything for the album. “King of Doves” and “We’ve Got To Get Out” are good, but easily skip-able. This brings up the main problem with this album. It has too much filler, which in turn makes it that the whole album is not cohesive. Even though the songs are all good, I find myself skipping to the good ones, then playing the ‘meh’ ones afterwards. “Souvenirs” and “Lights” are more of the same, with no build-up and repetition, with the former especially sounding like a last minute addition to the album and a Jimmy Eat World rip-off.
Even with these somewhat boring songs, there are a lot of standouts, such as “James” and “Adios” that have the same driving force of “Someone Has To Die” and “Sleep Around”. The same can be said about “If All My Days Go By”, which brings out the style that the band would use more often on their next album, “We, the Vehicles”.
Upon repeated listens I found a common problem with almost every song on the album. There’s too much happening. While it’s good to have an arrangement that will bring out the best of the song, it can be a downer when you see the band live and it’s missing all 28 instruments present on each song. Each song usual contains 3-4 guitar tracks playing different things, with piano, organs, synth, horns, and percussion. The most likely reason for this was to counteract the simple song structures and pop melodies with something more full and creative. While it works for some songs like “Someone Has To Die”, it becomes too much for others, such as “Souvenirs”. In my opinion, this can come as a disappointment when seeing the band live, since you will not get the same effect you get on the record.
Ending on a positive note with “Human Beings”, the song ends with an emotional closer that gets you wanting to hear more from Maritime. The song is very reminiscent of early Death Cab For Cutie, which begs the question why Maritime is not as well known as DCFC, even though they are fairly similar.
Although with its flaws, Maritime creates an album that is both fun and poppy, while still retaining both emotion and creativity. While not as good as “We, the Vehicles” or “Heresy and the Hotel Choir”, “Glass Floor” introduces a band that is fully capable of creating magnificent songs in a new style while being able to escape the shadow of their former bands.