Mazes – Mazes Blazes album review

Mazes are a band specially built for pop music. Featuring ex-members of local mainstay’s the 1900’s and Office, their alchemically-rich musical brew hath emerged as some sort of folk-hipster-Voltron. You know? Like when five separate but cool musicians join together and form an even cooler & taller thing, except instead of wielding a space sword, it just walks around, whistling in dusted jeans.

The band first trickled onto the scene in 2009 with the release of Mazes, their sweetly lo-fi (but not really) self-titled LP and again with 2010’s Messes with My Imagination. The latter found the completed lineup in giddy-mode, maniacally weaving through medley’s of bite-sized song experiments.

Mazes Blazes, the group’s 3rd release, is an album of ear-pleasing melodies, all of it veiled in layers of strangely-organic production. It’s both considerably tongue in cheek and loose in feel, and yet, it’s arranged ever-so precisely. Taking a cue (and some re-worked tunes) from their previous EP, tracks often clock in under the 2:00 mark, wasting no time to incarnate into their next silly pop creation. Its dynamism makes for a captivating listen, and well, a fairly brief one.

According to the band’s Parasol bio-page, the dudes and dude-et hatched a plan to mix the entire record in one long studio session. It’s quite telling, particularly when considering the coy, “Who gives a fuck?” tone of the album. It’s also somewhat unexpected given main-guy Ed Anderson’s predilection for pop-perfectionism. “All the world is sad, I cry, when everything I wanted is refusing to be mine”, he sings in tweaked pitch on “Jose in My Mind”. Perhaps then, this record is Anderson’s own version of psychotherapeutic retribution. A raw and emotionally charged response to some lost cause? An ode to life and its many diversions? Or simply just a fun way to of blow off steam. Whatever the cause here, the songs certainly don’t suffer.

From the reverb-soaked call & response of “Messes”, to the endearingly sarcastic “222×3” and the rousing “Young & Gross”. Each track brings with it, little nuanced treasures of uber-cool musical craft. Other highlights include the reflective “Litsa”, the rollicking “Lois, Clark & Lake, (sung by bassist Tom Smith) and the poignantly-melodic, “Heavy Feather”. It’s yet another solid release from these guys. Here’s to hoping these pop-freaks get their due.

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