Maps & Atlases Beware and Be Grateful

Maps & AtlasesBeware and Be Grateful
Lush layers and intricate production meet the most straightforward songwriting yet out of the Maps and Atlases camp. Bouncing from tracks that sound closer to TV on the Radio ("Old and Gray") and Top 40 radio hits ("Winter," "Bugs") than anything off their debut, the Chicago, IL-based quartet have done everything to shed the somewhat confusing math rock moniker from their name. "Old and Gray" opens the ten-track record with beautifully placed background vocals and engaging drum tracks, letting vocalist Dave Davison draw listeners in with his inviting melodies. And the song reveals what the following nine will attempt to accomplish: tracks that major in captivating secondary vocals, attention-grabbing rhythms and Davison's intriguing delivery. "Remote and Dark Years" captures pop sensibilities from the '80s and crams them into this mould, while "Old Ash" takes the musicality of Vampire Weekend and does the same. Does it work? Yes and no. The songs are engaging and incredibly catchy, but lack emotion ― that intangible quality that will take this feel-good record and give it staying power. It's a step in an interesting direction though. (Barsuk)