Maps & Atlases
Perch Patchwork


4.0
excellent

Review

by Adam Thomas STAFF
June 22nd, 2010 | 128 replies | 24,176 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: All grown up.

Well, this is a surprise. Maps and Atlases have gone and made a pop record. To be honest, their previous work wasn't that far removed from being user friendly. It still had more hooks than a barrel of monkeys and was rather straightforward in its direction, but it was what was contained within, a conglomerate of zany start stop rhythms - hypnotizing finger tapped guitars bouncing back and forth like a coked up squirrel, that warped their pop sensibilities into something palatable for more adventurous music fans. So it is rather shocking that one of the States' most endearing math-rock bands have decided to drop the math all together. Now let us all take a collective deep breath, forget everything we though we knew about the Chicagoans, and see Perch Patchwork for what it really is: a band stripping itself down to the core.

For the longest time it was Dave Davison's guitar, not his voice, that was the focal point in Maps and Atlases music, but now the band have made a 180 degree change in their approach to songwriting. It's a big gamble given the nasally timbre of his voice, but where there is no risk there is no reward, and on Perch Patchwork the reward is huge. No longer shackled to the confines of having to create a viable vocal melody within cooky time signatures, Davison explores all directions of his range. The dip from his usual pitchy idiosyncratic warbling into a somewhat forced baritone on “The Charm” may be somewhat odd on its own, but when his hummably sweet melody is coupled with cascading drums and sparse, droning guitar swells it recalls the same nu-folk sensibilities that defined Animal Collective's work before they went on their electronic acid trip. Elsewhere on Perch Patchwork, such as the aptly titled “Israeli Caves”, Maps and Atlases' varying array of both western and eastern influences coalesce into them beating Vampire Weekend at their own game, taking the syncopated African rhythms that were introduced to American listeners back in the 80's with Paul Simon's Graceland and mixing them with the flair Middle Eastern of melodies and a strong background in 60's art-rock. Even when reaching back to their older, more technical sound on “Pigeon”, it is deconstructed into its base essence and put back together through this new world conscious musical vision, compiling an artful smorgasbord of tribal sounds with their new found take on the most adventurous of American folk..

For a band that has spent the last half of a decade being defined by the technicality of their music, making an album like Perch Patchwork could have been a disaster, but Maps and Atlases pulled through and made the most important record of their career. Even though the change in sound might alienate the most stubborn of fans, what they gain on their Barsuk debut is a new found sense of direction and a grandiose vision that stretches farther than the confines of math-rock ever could.



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user ratings (245)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Tari Ajadi (4.5)
The case against math is made ever more compelling....

robin EMERITUS (4.5)
math rock's vegetable box....


Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2010



9984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

longest adam thomas review in months!

Athom
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2010



17114 Comments


I know, right. Exactly 500 words.

Digging: Sad Lovers and Giants - Feeding the Flame

sniper
June 22nd 2010



18578 Comments


omgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomg

Not sure how to feel about this actually. I'm confident I'll like it, but I'm gonna miss the crazy. Especially since the new Tera Melos track is also decidedly un-mathy.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2010



17114 Comments


I'm sure after a couple of listens you'd like this. if not you could just listen to Pigeon on repeat.

sniper
June 22nd 2010



18578 Comments


Yeah, I was initially disappointed by You Me and the Mountain, but it grew on me a lot, I'll definitely give this a few listens.

robin
Emeritus
June 22nd 2010



4221 Comments


im anxious to submit my review of this, i adore this album. =( also, great review adam. i agree basically, though i didnt really see the whole growing up thing as essential in understanding them, i really love your take on it

dcha
June 22nd 2010



989 Comments


Cannot stand this guys voice.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
June 22nd 2010



7226 Comments


Holy shit something other than Rosetta and Gaslight Anthem in best new music :-o I'll check this out.

SpritzSpritz
June 22nd 2010



479 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think the track "Perch Patchwork" may become my favorite of all Maps and Atlases songs.

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2010



9984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

whose this guy sound like im lazy

Athom
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2010



17114 Comments


if you liked Vampire Weekend's last cd you should dig it.

SlightlyEpic
June 22nd 2010



5780 Comments


this album is cute

Time
June 22nd 2010



81 Comments


this is so good but i think you and me and the mountain is their best

sniper
June 22nd 2010



18578 Comments


Tree, Swallows, Houses will always be my favorite but honestly this band is really good they can't fail.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2010



17114 Comments


same here. probably because "Every Place Is a House" is so god damn fun to play on guitar.

SeaAnemone
June 22nd 2010



18753 Comments


I really didn't enjoy 'You Me And something' as much as everyone else seemed to, but I just started listening to this anyway

sniper
June 22nd 2010



18578 Comments


My favorite song they ever wrote was probably Tin Cans or Big Bopper Anthems, but that album just has so many awesome moments. So simultaneously uplifting and dancey too.

you told me there were no stars, just satellites.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2010



15690 Comments


hmm that first line sounds familiar...



Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins [AMDISCS]

Against Miik!
June 22nd 2010



215 Comments


Doesn't really sound anything like any of their EPs. Might grow on me though.

Dec review btw.

Spare
June 22nd 2010



5223 Comments


somewhat disappointed this exists but w/e adam thomas thinks it's good



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