Review Summary: Maritime's 'We, the Vehicles', a simple indie album, wrapped in an intricate post-rock packaging. This is a band who abolishes any pre-concieved notion of what makes an album unique. Almost the complete opposite, consiquently having somethi1 of 1 thought this review was well written
To be completely honest, i am starting to fear that people won't actually see this wonderfully concieved album for what it really is. It seems as though consumers these days have been given a pre-concieved notion of what makes an album unique. This then posses a whole other issue on the irony of the subject; how is it that we already have ideas' of what 'different' should be? If by creating a framework for uniqueness we completely disolve any form of artistic adventure, than where does that leave the artists who simply strive for something unique, but in affect the reaction they recieve is nothing more than moderate buzz.
In retrospect, here we have Maritime's 'We, the Vehicles', a simple indie album, wrapped in an intricate post-rock packaging. This is a band who abolishes any pre-concieved notion of what makes an album unique. Almost the complete opposite, consiquently having something to do with the reputation of members previous projects, The Dismemberment Plan, and The Promise Ring. On their sophmore follow up to 2004's critically panned "Glass Floor", Maritime break out of any expectations preceeding them, and produce what may be considered the most accessible underground album of 2006.
The artistic adventure begins with the album's first track Calm Singer/guitarist Davey Von Bohlen recites without hesitation the feeling that with a little time to recover we can make it through any of lifes problems. With soaring guitars that seam to pan in and out on an electronic cue, and a driving percussion section that accents Von Bohlen's warm vocal tone, we are left with nothing more than optimism for what is to come.
The second track (the album's single) Tearing up the Oxygen, starts off with a very similar feeling as Calm. Driving guitar lines this time are accompanied by an infectious synth. Von Bohlen keeps the listener amused with accusing lyrics, and a chorus that would make even the most pretentious kids get off of their seats and dance.
People, the Vehicles, the albums third track, pits the vocal finesse of Von Bohlen vs. his own brand of lyrical poetic. Vivid descriptions of the constant change in friendships and the literal connection between superficiality and realness in relationships.
Flowing into the next track Parade of Punk Rock T-Shirts, which bears a similar theme, we are engulfed by an almost satirical look at scene aesthetics, and the relationships between what we want and what we can actually afford to give into. The track hints briefly at a playboy esque Gang of Four sound. While staying loyal to their signature vocal stylings, Parade is one of the more upbeat tracks on the album.
Ending up on the fifth track without even realizing it is an easy task as most of the songs average 3:30, which makes for a pretty solid listen, Maritime is great at staying away from filler, and only giving us what we need. We Don't Think, We Know, is another upbeat song similar to Parade. This time we are greated with more of a Nada Surf feel like pop-song. This time more lyrically confined, comming across with a more 'straight-forward" tone. Themed almost reminisent of high school parties, and a loss of innocence.
Now let me tell you this next song starts off with an interesting vocal and drum only verse, which to be honest i found to almost melodically poison the smoothness of Von Bohlen's voice. Although the track, No One Will Remember You Tonite takes a break for the better about midway through the song as the purpose for the bland verse shines through with the accenting chorus, still this song still remains with me as a weaker side to the album.
Young Alumni, is by far the strongest track on the album. Keeping with the current theme, the song takes another stab at the superficialities of life - it's almost as if he can see right through people, decifer their personalities at the drop of a dime. He seems to do this so precisely, and with such diligence. Young Alumni is a modern view of the socialites who consider themselves stable and resiliant, when in reality they are just as young and prone to make mistakes; almost as if he is making a bigger statement about the ridiculous course of life that is forced upon us. We go to school, we get a nice apartment in the city, we make a living, we have nice parties, ect...
By track eight we are greeted by an over the top, plea of a love song called Don't say you Don't. Moreover, a song that analyzes a relationship that seems so fragile to Von Brohlen, a safe song that allows us to get back in the groove that we felt so heavily throughout the albums first 5 tracks. Sitting at track nine is the albums most experimental track German Engineering. Built on off beats, twangy guitars and quirky basslines, we are swept away by Maritimes versatility. A far cry from a more melodic Tearing Up the Oxygen or the dancy Parade, we are left wondering what else does this band have in store for us.
Twins is Maritime's interesting take on the idea that somewhere out there there must be someone just like us, therefore the insinuating Twins reference is thrown into play. This track musically has it's highpoints (the first verse comes to mind) but eventually filters off into tiring ramble. Although, like songs from Maritime's first album, the theme is interesting enough to carry the song.
Finally we end on the concluding track Protein and Poison. If you are expecting any sort of epic driving finish similar to the albums first two tracks then think again. Maritime leaves behind the expected and delivers a song very much like People, the Vehicles. Simple, straightforward, yet lyrically challenging. That is the purpose i believe of this band.
They never really say goodbye on this album, which is for good reason... they don't need to. If this band (in their blossoming age) can manage to stay together long enough, we are sure to see something even more spectacular than We, the Vehicles in the years to come.
Like i said this album has it's elements of mainstream simplicity, but is definetly full of interesting arrangements, and enough lyrical integrity to keep us all satisfied.