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A review of...

Wooden Aquarium by Mazes

Wooden Aquarium
Label:
Date: 
September 8, 2014
Writer: 
Adam Millard
8.0

The gist

British three-piece go to New York, get their gear nicked, get snowed into a studio and make a new record.

The music

For me, the most notable thing about Mazes' previous album Ores & Minerals is that it was, stylistically speaking, all over the place. A great record but not one that would pin down who Mazes were and what they were trying to do. From the outset, their follow-up Wooden Aquarium is more focused, the first two tracks blur seamlessly into one and they instantly set their tone. Maybe some of this is down to the band teaming up with Parquet Courts' producer Jonathan Schenke, who's certainly added a cosy glow to the recordings, or maybe it's the situation the band found themselves in whilst recording in NYC. As singer/guitarist Jack Cooper recalls "we had to shovel our way to the studio every morning. It was interesting being snowed in - you get busy and knuckle down", but the fact that these tunes were also recorded completely live in the space of a fortnight is surely also a factor in this record sounding much more like a definitive Mazes product. The overall sound is lofi-poppy, with neat hooks like backwards solos ("Astigmatism"), ghostly guitar feedback that sounds like synths ("It Is What It Is") and psychedelic pulsing rhythm ("Letters Between U and V"). Mazes seem to have found their feet at last.

Listen to:

"Astigmatism" - the track starts and ends with a muddied Beatles riff via a breakneck journey of Power Pop and Psychedelia.

"Explode Into Colo(u)rs" - the spelling is perhaps a nod to their New York lifestyle during the recording process. The track is at once atmospheric, wobbly, restrained and oddly sublime.