Manchester’s feel-good angular twanging riffers, Mazes, sound like a lost alternative college radio choice from late 80s America; dutifully recalling the early days of REM and Big Star: which is indeed no bad thing.
In fact you could be forgiven for assuming that this itchy ennui Flamin’ Groovies-esque band were from across the Atlantic: singer Jack Cooper both dons the vacant mantle of Steve Malkmus, and adheres to the Weezer school of chorus puncturated “oohs” and “ahhs”.
For their latest sun-kissed major-chord pop adventure, the group get to spend time in a bona fide studio with ‘proper production and everything’ , though their D.I.Y ethics remain in evidence – especially as each song follows the old punk rules of remaining at the 2-minute mark in duration. ‘A Thousand Heys’ references an array of influences, whether its those jaunty guitars and beaten-out toms of The Go-Betweens on the similarly entitled slackers love tryst, Go Betweens, or the Altered Images pogoing to a beach bum Ramones on Summer Hits, there’s a constant fond homage paid to the sophisticated and well-crafted end of edgy pop. Mix this love with the British beat groups of yore, and with the sinuous meandering feel of Pavement, and you have an exciting prospect on your hands.
Lyrically laconic in content, there is a light touch of effortless ‘whatever’ aloofness and hint of nihilism, yet there’s also plenty of humour and whimsy, such as with the reflective reminiscing tone on Bowie Knives, and the sulking teenage melodrama of Vampire Jive; Cooper mooning “I don’t ever dream at all, waiting on the sun” in a terse doo-wop cynical diatribe.
Mazes have hit upon a succesful formula that aches with both breezy, new-wave, power pop and enough atitude to give them a certain hardcore edge. This 13 track album perfectly captures a band on a roll.