Review: Maps & Atlases, Beware and Be Grateful

It’s not particularly normal for a band to blog about other artists’ releases. It may even be a bit presumptuous. I’m not really sure.

However, it seems that the question you get asked the most as a band is: “What are your influences?” I imagine every band struggles as much with that question as we do. The truth is that just about every piece of awesome music we listen to is an influence. So we’re just going to start telling you about records we think are banging — starting with Maps & Atlases, who are awesome.

Forgive me. I really ought to have cottoned on to Beware and be Grateful, the sophomore full-length by Maps & Atlases, sooner.

The Chicago four-piece have been doing the rounds since 2006, after all. Appearances at SXSW and various tours with prominent acts including Foals, Minus the Bear and So Many Dynamos ought to have alerted me to their brilliance.

Fear not. I have seen the light.

Despite being both current and timeless, it is hard to put a finger on exactly what genre Beware and Be Grateful fits into. That is exactly why it is such an excellent record – experimental, accessible and majestically paced.

This album veers from effortless pop bliss – see track two, Fever – to angular rock perfection on Winter and, a little later, onto the quasi Billy Idol-esque Vampires. And there’s plenty more to sink your fangs into.

Opener Old & Grey draws you into the album patiently, maturely and incredibly melodically. There’s even room for an old school slowy – in a good way – on Remote & Dark Years.

This one has ‘album of the year’ written all over it. Do yourself a favour and buy it here.

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