3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Neck craning sonic invention that is,nt as derivative as you may have been led to believe,
This review is from: We Can Create (Audio CD)
Maps : We Can Create was short listed for the 2007 Mercury music prize but didn't win it as some band from somewhere cooler than Northampton (Just about anywhere then) and with far more interesting haircuts won it instead . This is one of those albums I have been meaning to listen to but never found the time as I was too busy listening to other things that seemed far more diverting. I regret that now because having eventually got around to listening to We Can Create I really like it. It reminds me , and I realise I am not being especially cognisant in saying this, of many of the shoe gazing* bands of the early nineties. This is a good thing as I really quite enjoyed some of them and this album while harking back to that scene is not entirely derivative either. Bear with me while i do something academic*"Shoegazing (also known as shoegaze or shoegazer; practitioners referred to as shoegazers) is a genre of alternative rock that emerged from the United Kingdom in the late 1980s, lasting until the mid 1990s. The shoegazing sound featured extensive use of guitar effects, and indistinguishable vocal melodies that blended into the creative noise of the guitars."
(Adapted from Wikipedia)
So how does it differ from say My Bloody Valentine, to whom it has been most frequently compared? Well for a start Maps are like a shoe gaze version of The Streets, in this case James Chapman in his bedroom with lots of dreadfully complicated stuff. Using electronics rather than more traditional organic six stringed instrumentation Chapman manages to craft aurally compelling vistas that while using the quiet/loud template of his peers have a dynamic integrity of their own. Plus he can write good enough songs with which to drape his sounds capes over.
Opening track "So Low , So High" while encapsulating the music's whole philosophy is a tremendous panorama of manipulated vocal effects and neck craning orchestration. It reminds me also of M83 who do this kind of choral vocal/electronic amalgamation equally adeptly. This is the albums highlight and it must be said the first half of the album is superior to the latter where it becomes a little formulaic and less sonically captivating.
That said the scabrous shifting tones and heavy duty percussion of "Elouise" are hugely imposing and bring to mind the excellent "Band Of Susans". "It Will Find You" has the clipped precise beats of nineties dance music and the reticulated rhythmic grace of MBV,s masterpiece "Soon". "Back + Forth" does too funnily enough with it's breathy backing vocals . "When You Leave" is all gossamer keyboards and brusque beats like Spiritualized on a budget. "Glory Verse" unfortunately doesn't have a verse worth any glory but it is a commendable attempt at a melancholy sparse ballad , at odds with the fulsome tones most often utilised.
We Can Create is a laudable attempt to redefine or maybe resurrect a genre of music that for all it's flaws gave us some terrific bands. You can quibble that the album isn't diverse enough though that didn't stop MBV (Yes them again) releasing two wondrous albums and that Chapman's vocals lack the character and emotional strength to make the songs really connect emotionally with the listener but then vocal prowess was never what music like this was about .Given time , and maybe moving out of the bedroom Chapman has what it takes to make a true classic (Not like Adrian Gurvitz who wrote a "Classic " in his attic ) He may even win the Mercury but I wouldn't let that become his major motivator ....he should believe ....he can CREATE.