The Maple State – The Things I Heard at the Party (Album Review)

Manchester three-piece, The Maple State, have taken a break from saving the world (literally – 2 out of 3 members work in conservation) to reform and release new album, The Things I Heard at the Party. Almost a decade since their first single, and a lengthy hiatus, the big question is: Have they still got it?

On the evidence of the opener, title track ‘The Things I Heard at the Party’, the answer is a resounding yes.

The intro evolves into a sonic slice of surf inspired indie shoegaze. The Jangling guitar combined with a purposeful drum beat create something that is obscure enough to sound individual but without losing any accessibility. The release progresses through Shins/Cloud Control style musicianship on ‘Something in the Water’ to the indie-pop masterclass of ‘Cannonball’, while ‘Cold Theatre II (Always You)’ contains a rousing chorus of which The Courteeners can only dream of, all combined with a chugging bassline and Graham Coxon-esq guitars.

The Jesus and Mary Chain and Owls have a definite influence on tracks like ‘Winner’, combined with a Minutemen style opening with bass and drums rolling, leading into a sun drenched shoegaze guitar line that soars effortlessly to crescendo. The influences continue to develop on the left field with ‘Deadline’ closing the LP with post punk vocals and an expansive musical wall which slowly builds to a comforting end.

From the musical references it’s pretty clear that this is timeless release. The influences surpass musical era’s, while embracing some very trendy styles and vintage sounds. There are particular nods to early (and obscure) emo, shoegaze and melodic hardcore, while the combination of indie and pop hooks means this very accessible album will work for even the most pretentious of listeners.

The Things I Heard at the Party is a welcome return from a band who have somehow made a release that plays like an alternative musical history, without individuality ever suffering as a result. This is songwriting and musicianship of the highest standard; a triumph of expansive emo.

The Things I Heard at the Party is out on March 23rd via Far Out Records.