Album Review: Maybeshewill – ‘I was here for a moment, then I was gone’

I am devouring new music.  I have spent a few years avoiding too many new sounds so that my own albums exist in their own bubble, unaffected by outside interests.  But now, I unwrap new music.  CDs!  I still buy a few CDs!  Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

I have mentioned in past reviews how I prefer to critique from afar.   From across the span of a decade.  To eat and drink an album to the point where you know it intimately.. to be able to truly see its value and place in history.  Well… going against all that, I review this album from a position of no prior knowledge. I know nothing about this band. Nothing at all.  I don’t know how this differs or betters anything else they’ve done.  I don’t know what else they’ve done!  This is therefore a blind test.  This is my reasoning and justification for ignoring my previous sentiments.  I like the idea of either reviewing with ALL knowledge… or reviewing with NO knowledge.  For a little bit of knowledge can be a bad thing!  So…  Maybeshewill.  Hmmm.

From the very opening seconds of “I was here for a moment, then I was gone” I knew I was going to like this album.  It’s as if I’ve never been away from music.  I’m picking up right from where I left off.  The album opens with an immediate punch of epicness, and you know how much I adore epicness!!!  Tinkling pianos, swelling strings and a choir of “ahhhhs”.  I can indeed imagine filling the punch bowl for this creation.  A healthy dash of Explosions in the Sky and a half bottle of Hope of the States.  This is music that sits well in my frame of reference.  The beautiful opening segues into first track proper “Take This to Heart”.  A really cool stomping song that could be the theme for a Zombie film – I suggest 28 Days Later… or has that already been done? 😉 .  It has that post rock feel.  The sound of physical oxygen and carbon dioxide around the instruments.  Air being moved.  This is another quietLOUDquiet band and to a certain extent I’ve heard it all before.  But that doesn’t stop the individual tracks pricking my ears and “Take This to Heart” for instance is smooth.  It’s hard to put some of these sounds into words… but Maybeshewill‘s sound would make a good ‘spread’ for a sandwich.  I don’t know how much of this album is sequenced and how much is played live but it sounds very, very real.  This is an album after my heart… tugging at my hamstrings.  Fragments of the album sound like the theme to Dexter, which I love.  “Words For Arabella” has hand-claps and “Red Paper Lanterns” even has chimes!  Yay! This is exquisitely crafted sound.  However, like Three Trapped Tigers before it, this is well trodden ground. The post rock landscape is a dirty, desolate, solitary place with countless square miles of ground sodden with oil and the carcasses of all the ‘noise’ bands who came before.  So… do Maybeshewill do enough to get my blood flowing?

This is a different beast to the feline antics of Three Trapped Tigers.  Maybeshewill are not so heavily reliant on the extreme skills of one member of the band (Tiger‘s drummer).  This band has an all round pretty sheen.  For a post rock noise album “I was here for a moment, then I was gone” is actually quite gentle.  And my does it flow.  Like Chateauneuf du Pape down a greased, angled piece of glass.  I suppose that’s the ‘smoothness’ coming in to play again!  We are not going to escape the fast downward strummed electric guitar here.  This is no place for alternate picking!  Ha ha!  Saying that, “Red Paper Lanterns” features a beautiful guitar melody which reminds me of some of the techniques of Joe Satriani.  Strange that I’ve mentioned Satriani two reviews in a row now, for I bet he isn’t an influence on this band.  They will probably deny his existence!  Ha ha!

This album fizzes in places.  Literally fizzes… like a can of freshly opened Coke (not Pepsi).  Hmmmm… is that chugging power chords I hear on “Relative Minors”?  Ha ha!  Yes!  More!  Another very important point: the songs are short, most being around the 4 minute mark.  This means the band are compressing ideas… getting straight to the point.  There is no meandering here.  If anything, this is as close to ‘pop singles’ as you’re going to get in the world of post rock!  I appreciate it.  Although I love long songs too it is nice for a band in this genre to be making a concerted effort to be concise.

Negatives… well, I hate to harp on and I realise I’m like a broken record… but it is a little clichéd to have no vocals.  Yes, I know, I know… this is supposed to be instrumental music.  I know that post rock doesn’t have vocals.  I know it’s the antithesis of commercial rock.  I know it is an attempt to bring to rock what electronic brought to pop.  I know that Aphex Twin is a closer comparison to this music than the Rolling Stones.  However, I would like these bands to keep pushing forward.  And for me, well, I would love to hear what Maybeshewill could do with another weapon in their repertoire.  The human voice is the most versatile of all instruments… come on someone on the scene… bring it into play!!!

An exquisite album.  Well played, well thought out, well-intentioned.  I’m not sure it truthfully offers much above and beyond what we’ve already been given by the likes of Explosions in the Sky.  However, there is an increased sense of urgency on display here.  This band has the ability to rock out balls-to-the-wall and still maintain the melody.  This isn’t ‘clever’ music… this sound-scape retains emotion.  And for that reason I give Maybeshewill an awful lot of credit.  It’s hard to give a score to an album like this.  I feel I have to fit it into the huge swathe of post rock bands in some way…  like its achievement can’t make up for the fact that there are a thousand similar sounding bands at the moment.  However… I shall give it a score based on how I feel.  Take it or leave it.  Great album.  Fantastic album.  I just don’t know whether it’s game changing.  Simple as that.

Maybeshewill – I was here for a moment, then I was gone: 7/10

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