Monday, October 15, 2007

Times And Troubles, They Just Wash Right Over Us

Heresy & The Hotel Choir (Flameshovel, 2007)
Grade: B

Download: Maritime - "For Science Fiction"
Download: Maritime - "With Holes for Thumb Sized Birds"

Heresy & The Hotel Choir, the third album from Promise Ring and Dismemberment Pan offshoot Maritime begins with a trio of songs that make up a musical triumvirate, before settling into a satisfactory string of songs. The tracks are not as transcendent as the hugely hook-filled choruses would have you believe, but there are some notable peaks which make up for Heresy's occasional valleys.

's sound combines the punk wistfulness of emo with the jingle-jangle mourning of classic 60s inspired alt-rock. The end result is that many of these tracks start out with a shimmering guitar arpeggio (usually under a jangly, or riffy rhythm guitar) and a steady, uptempo drumbeat, then eventually build their way up to an refrain that reaches for the rafters. Some songs do this better than others - particularly in Heresy's first few songs, with tracks like "Guns Of Navarone" and "With Holes For Thumb Sized Birds" being early album highlights. Once Heresy reaches its comfortable middle and the album, while perfectly listenable, doesn't stray outside that comfort zone.

What a shame, because when Maritime make dramatic departures, like with the "Answering Machine" intimacy of "Peril" or the truly epic "Love Has Given Up", they really hit the nail on the musical head. But Maritime also sound like veteran musicians finally getting comfortable in their own skin. While that doesn't make for the most adventurous listening, it does show that if a band keeps at a stable pace, they can easily draw acclamatory, though not ecstatic, attention.

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(Jonathan Graef)

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