Maps & Atlases
Beware and Be Grateful


4.0
excellent

Review

by robin EMERITUS
April 19th, 2012 | 39 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: cute songs.

My whole experience of Maps & Atlases reads like an off-base rockumentary cliché, but anyway: I understand that Maps & Atlases are not the band they once were. This seems like an absolutely ridiculous statement to make of a band that has done little more to their sound than nuance it; the guitar tapping is still present, muffled under the song though it may be, and the experiments have just been restricted to compact boxes to move about in. The band hasn’t split itself down its side like it may seem, rather it’s just suppressed the big and the bold into the background to make room for (sure, go ahead and use the word) a “pop” song. It’s the toning down of it all, though, that makes it so criminal, and so when they nuance, they nuance hard. Maps & Atlases were once something of an imposing band, which means they were in your face and clever and they did these things to you; their second and most noted EP was aggressive and progressive, trying a whole lot at raucous speeds. Now, Maps & Atlases are a band able; namely, they are “danceable,” the band that sat around and listened to Prince a shit-tonne. Beyond the immaculate construction of their record, we do what we want with Maps & Atlases these days; the fans who claim they’ve given up on this band but for a live show are just as righteous fans as those of us who embrace this new band who made “Winter,” the band with supposedly funky choruses. Whatever the result is, I recognise the lame cliché on this one: it’s like listening to two different bands.

Cliché number two: that side of Maps & Atlases that died (by being quieter than usual) has made Maps & Atlases the band I was always hoping they would evolve into. There were moments on Perch Patchwork where a very bright light shone down: songs as showy as “Pigeon” suddenly sounded like warm home recordings, even in their cerebral nature; it felt like listening to a band making the greatest equation on how to party. Awful math rock jokes aside, there’s something of a super-group to be had of a Maps & Atlases who can make a visceral impact rather than just construct one. People have said you can dance to Beware and Be Grateful, which essentially means you can feel things as you listen to it; you can hear the patterns of the saddest moments, like Davison’s ‘I, I, I’ repeating as an endless transmission in “Remote and Dark Years.” Yes, it’s not something you need to read in a review, but Beware and Be Grateful is even more a warm, touching record than the ones made before it. As Davison loses it on the guitar-crackling “Old Ash” and lets his voice loudly preach and then crumble in a heap, a new vision of Maps & Atlases comes beaming out. It’s a passionate band standing on the top of all their wacky, wonderful architecture and caring profoundly about it.

These aren’t ferocious songs and they aren’t always playing with everything on the forefront, and it’s compelling to see that; the band has rounded up the edges of their songs and put them into the ground, so that “Fever” is as many times as complex as “Everyplace Is A House” but comes out as a song with a very conventional beauty to it: no guitar noodling, maybe, but so many little things going on within it that constitute bro-y complexity, just in a better way: so many guitar patterns and little programmed noises to be followed. Beware and Be Grateful is easy to dismiss as too easy, or not the band we once knew, but it feels to me like the band that finally found themselves saying what they want to say and in the way they want to. Which is why, chief among all clichés, I consider this somehow representative of the band as a whole, no matter how different it’s all gotten: a band showing off as a secondary objective, playing songs with immense warmth and love. We can speak of the impossibility of reconciling version one of this band to version two, but for me, Beware and Be Grateful is just a band growing. Growth, at its most disgustingly ordinary and clichéd. Heartfelt geniuses that these guys are, they sell it.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
robin
Emeritus
April 19th 2012


4248 Comments


4.5

fuckthatnoise
April 19th 2012


1479 Comments


4.5

sniper
April 19th 2012


19049 Comments


fantastic review

Steoandnoodles
April 19th 2012


2832 Comments


I thought it was going to be a negative review when I read 'cute songs...' =P

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2012


15976 Comments


Was a 4.5 on first listen, dwindled to a 4 upon further listens, became even less impressed today.

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

DoubtGin
April 19th 2012


6752 Comments


:/

Steoandnoodles
April 19th 2012


2832 Comments


I agree Sowing. First listen was a 4.5 for me. Huge surprise, didn't expect to like it so much but it quickly rubs off, not that it's bad though. =)

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2012


10413 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the remote and dark years/silver combo is so good

Digging: Literature - Chorus

robin
Emeritus
April 19th 2012


4248 Comments


ive listened to this record about 300 times by now. don't really see it wearing off.

also rudy yes < 3

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
April 19th 2012


23816 Comments


athom is gonna give this a 2.5-3 review I bet

and Vampire Weekend will be mentioned in the review

Oswig328
April 19th 2012


29 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Good review, although I'm not sure I agree with it. You talk about how the emotional potential of the band is finally
coming to fruition, which I'm not sure I follow that. To me, a song like Perch Patchwork was the apex of emotion from
the band, with the layered vocals and especially the instrumentation. My main problem with this album is that they have
such a heavy emphasis on electronic sounds and a lot of the edges in their sound got rounded off, especially with the
drums. But, I digress because emotional response is kind of a dumb thing to argue anyway.

"there’s something of a super-group to be had of a Maps & Atlases who can make a visceral impact rather than just
construct one." -also I think a lot of beauty/emotion can be found inherently from the construction of music and not
necessarily the immediate visceral response.

not trying to be pretentious, just my two cents.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2012


17213 Comments


Everything that made me a fan of Maps & Atlases no longer exists within the band's sound. It's not that this is bad, it's just that as far as the performer/audience relationship goes, we've parted ways.

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

foxxxyroxxx
April 19th 2012


496 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i agree with a 4

Oswig328
April 19th 2012


29 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

anyone know why my post up there looks ridiculous?

foxxxyroxxx
April 19th 2012


496 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

did you edit it

Oswig328
April 19th 2012


29 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

yeah

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2012


31158 Comments


Can spot a Robin review by reading summary

=]

Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

Inveigh
April 19th 2012


24963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

getting this now


chicago represent

AggravatedYeti
April 20th 2012


7685 Comments


you make any album sound good robin.

Inveigh
April 20th 2012


24963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I do like this band, but I can never escape the feeling that they're just biting Minus the Bear so hard



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