Layered melodies lacking emotional contrast
Two years after the release of their debut ‘Perks And Patchwork’, Chicago’s Maps & Atlases are back with an energetic collection of intelligent pop. This time around, the band’s obsession with complex rhythms is channelled though layers and layers of melody. ‘Old And Grey’ builds multi-tracked vocals into an off-kilter beat up to a hammering, plaintive finale. ‘Winter’ bounces like Vampire Weekend at their cheesiest. ‘Silver Self’ starts like something Bon Iver might make if he actually pronounced words, and eventually turns into a Paul Simon pastiche. What’s missing is any emotional contrast to stop all that cleverness from sounding overwhelming.