Overthinker was written, performed, and produced by Liam Maye, and arrives amongst a lot of industry buzz. From the opening seconds, this is a release that screams marketability; a smooth vocal combines with a Nile Rodgers-esque angular guitar while a warming bassline rumbles beneath snappy beats.
The musicianship has clearly been very well produced, but misses the grit of live instrumentation. Although within this genre, this sound is not uncommon, and the high production values do not sound out of place amongst releases that have been produced on astronomical budgets.
Following this is another clear single contender – an Ed Sheeran styled opening which develops into a sparse slice of electro pop and develops into an infectiously uplifting slice of unapologetic pop. Once more, the effortless vocal is the main draw, but well considered composition with nods to The XX and Bastille create yet another single contender within an EP that starts very strongly (if you like this kind of thing).
This release has an effortless transition between songs, which shows a very high level of musicianship. The warm rumbling basslines and sharp drums are thematic throughout and stitch the opening of this EP together with a real sense of purpose.
Then the flow completely disappears with a spoken word track. This is not just clumpy within the tracklisting, but combines an unoriginal piano part with the vocal delivery of someone trying way too hard to create rhythm and feeling within a repetitive stream of nonsense. It is clear this is an attempt to create something motivational, but this could have been achieved by saying the correct things in an interview.
The final track is an improvement, but there is something slightly unoriginal about the format – the sparse guitars are once again straight out of The XX playbook, the piano is far too clean to convey real emotion, and the layered vocals create an uncomfortable balance. This track doesn’t add anything new to the release, and despite a few instances of nice wordplay, this is an anticlimactic ending.
This is a release that plays like a press release; this is not a free-flowing EP where tracks appear to have been written with track placement in mind. Instead, it plays like a CV of things that Liam can do. Uplifting singles, ballads, and spoken word are included, but with that mindset, if a four-track EP doesn’t flow, how is an album of ten tracks ever going to work?
This is a release that is not without positives, though. Liam has a great voice and a very clear talent for production and musicianship, but overall, this is not an interesting release; it is almost completely devoid of grit and originality.
For a release called Overthinker, this EP seems to show a lack of free thought and instead (quite effectively) replicates some very successful artists. As mentioned, this is not without merit, and I’d be interested to hear where Liam Maye’s work goes next.