New album takes a wrong turn
Chicago’s Maps & Atlases seem to have fallen victim to the curse of the sophomore slump. New album Beware and Be Grateful sounds like a distant cousin to the darker, grittier fare presented on their debut, Perch Patchwork. This time around, the quartet dabbles with cleaner pop hooks that sound reminiscent of a Vampire Weekend meets Michael Franti hybrid.
Album opener, “Old & Gray,” starts things off with a folksy chorus similar to something you’d find off a Fleet Foxes album. From there, the majority of the songs sound like knock offs of Peter Gabriel’s catalogue with minor interruptions here and there for more fast-paced rock such as “Vampires,” and “Be Three Years Old.” However, Maps & Atlases are at their best on songs such as “Bugs” when they really allow their unique guitar riffs to take front and center. While nothing is technically wrong with the album, its penchant towards the lackluster doesn’t help it stand out. Beware and Be Grateful is light enough to play on your car radio over the summer, but probably won’t last into the fall.