Maps & Atlases - Beware and Be Grateful
Maps & Atlases begin to up their indie-rock credentials with their second full length album, even though it may not be an album which suits the mainstream listener. Before you can really get into Beware and Be Grateful, you first have to get over the tone of the vocals. It’s a shame because the riffs are neat and the melodies catchy, yet singer David Davison sounds like he is suffering from a case of awkward autotune. At times his voice is like a sponge, sucking the energy out of what could potentially be crushing anthems. Think Mumford and Sons without the endearing factor.
Beware and Be Grateful starts out promisingly with the muted guitar intro of ‘Old and Gray’ fitting perfectly with the harmonising backing vocals. It gives a simplistic yet somehow misleading introduction the rest of the album. They show their ability to pen an acoustic track with ‘Bugs’, which keeps a steady pulse without becoming boring. ‘Vampires’ picks up the pace, moving from Mumford territory into a more Kings of Leon country twang, filled with energy which is absent across much of the rest of the record. This is a band who potentially have a great sound, if only they could build the courage to leave their comfort zone. ‘Silver Self’ is an example of how they toy with the idea of originality, yet don’t quite grasp it. The six minute song could easily be two separate tracks, the latter half is littered with reverb heavy guitar licks which render the first three minutes impotent. Still hope then, but Maps & Atlases need to find a way to iron out the inconsistencies.