The Maple State – The Things I Heard At The Party

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/label URL: https://www.facebook.com/Far-Out-Records-536896459804205/
Released: 2018
Buy Album [URL]: https://themaplestate.bandcamp.com/album/the-things-i-heard-at-the-party
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/themaplestate/

Band line-up:

Gregory Counsell – Vocals and guitars
Christian Counsell – Guitar, bass and backing vocals
Richard Higginbottom – Guitar and backing vocals

Tracklisting:

1: The Things I Heard At The Party
2: Something in The Water
3: Cannonball
4: Africa
5: Cold Theatre II (Always You)
6: Winner
7: Not Enough
8: Sexy Jam
9: Deadline
10: The Motorbike and the Closest of Calls

Review:

Manchester’s ‘The Maple State’ will be revealing their highly anticipated ‘The Things I Heard At The Party’, on 23rd March 2018 through Far Out Records. It will be their first material since 2008. After that year, the members of the band went very different ways. Even so, the group remained in contact with each other, and the idea to reform occurred during Christmas 2015. That was when the guitarist and bassist overheard some ideas the singer had been working on. The latter has said the following about his music: ’In 2014 I was listening to a lot of folk music and I became obsessed with harmonies and drones, the idea that a single note can continue through an entire song just fascinated me.’

Just like in folk music, the listener will frequently have little difficulty predicting what will happen next as there is a fair amount of repetition. Again similarly, the vocal melodies are well written and would probably stand the test of time if heard enough. They are free from harshness, are catchy and contrastingly to the structures, they are rather complex. When it comes to note choices, they aren’t strongly old fashioned, but are more pop-rocky with occasional tinges of folk music. It’s interesting how different eras of music get combined so well, but it would be appreciated if those now more exotic flavours were more pronounced.

The singer may say he’s fascinated by drones, but there aren’t as many on this album as you might expect. ‘Winner’ is the most single note based in the low end, and the musical device whilst certainly minimal if not a little tiring, does provide a lot of colour to the music on the whole. This is because note combinations in the higher strings you wouldn’t always hear if in unison get utilised. Despite the strong vocal focus throughout the album, guitar hooks are not neglected, especially in the song just mentioned. That one’s ostinato in particular is very lively and its relatively complicated nature contrasts expertly with the ultra-simple bass. Furthermore, the way the singer sings on top of everything in a way that isn’t at all messy, is very clever.

What is also clever is the way the two guitarists compliment each other in the rhythm sections. Just one six-stringer would suffice for most bands, but a really thick and intriguing sound is created by them. This is in a way that doesn’t spoil the fun of the easy to anticipate forms. On the whole everything is full of life, feel-good and cool. There are perhaps no super-hits on the album, due to the lack of melodic and stylistic innovation and because the song writing isn’t quite Beatles standard, but there are many out there who will really enjoy this album. Give it a listen!

Review by Simon Wiedemann
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