(a)fternoon EP

Written by: PP on 10/03/2010 07:07:55

I promise this is one of the very last 2009 reviews I still have pending on my list before it's time to focus exclusively on 2010 releases only. It's just that Mae's EPs are rather difficult to notice because they are self-releasing them whilst on tour, so it took me a while to get my hands on the second installment in their career-defining three EP series documenting the three stages of a day (morning, afternoon, evening), of which all proceedings will be donated to charity (as far as I'm aware). "(a)fternoon" is the title, and it begins just like the previous masterpiece "(m)orning", with a bright, optimism-installing instrumental passage, and some gentle acoustic guitar to set the mood for the rest of the record to depict the sunny, blue skies of a summer afternoon. Some intercom announcements in numerous languages are all translating to "good afternoon", and then we get the first real track "Over & Over", which essentially picks off where "(m)orning" left off: strong chorus, great use of melody and strained clean singing in just the right places, and lots of progressive instrumentation guiding the listener through the buildup into an enormous explosion of emotion a few tracks later. Stuff that Relient K makes a living out of, though Mae have never received as much recognition as those guys despite being at least as good, if not better.

Lets remind ourselves again that this progressive instrumentation idea is really new to Mae, as we never heard the band this heavy (relatively speaking) prior to the start of the series. And in case you didn't have a chance to check them out yet: it's really, really, really working out for the band. Just like before, they sound rejuvenated, fresh and more creative than ever before. Although as a whole, "(a)fternoon" isn't as ridiculously good of a release as "(m)orning" was, here, too, the band has a couple of gems on offer that alone make this record worth getting. "In Pieces" is very similar to "The Fisherman Song (We All Need Love)" with its extensive build up, soft pianos contrasting, and rhythmic drums driving the five and a half minute song forward. But where the band really blows your socks off and sells them on eBay for a few thousand dollars, and surprises you by sharing profits with you is on "The Cure". The track is soft and emotional where it needs to be, but doesn't shy away from an explosion at the climaxing points of the chorus, and a memorable chorus hasn't been forgotten either, although I do have a bad conscience over reducing the masterpiece into nothingsaying technical terms like "chorus" or "verse". It progresses forward naturally, and has been crafted with much love and care, that such derogatory terms should never be used in conjunction of the song.

The last few tracks after the highlights are still okay, but they are in big trouble when placed in direct comparison. "Falling Into You" leans a tad bit too much on acoustic guitar to be supremely interesting, and although the playful tone of "Communication" belongs 'up there' with the better Mae songs, the truth is that when you write songs like "The Fisherman Song" or "The Cure", otherwise strong, solid tracks pale in comparison. Still, one can't but stand in awe-inspiration over how much Mae have developed over the course of these two EPs. They seemed like a band on a steep decline, and then boom, they prove they can write a bunch of amazing songs just like that. The third and final part of their EP series, "(e)vening" is scheduled to land sometime this year, and it is my belief that after its release, we can look back on a band that has written a seminal series of recordings that will be looked back on for years to come.

Download: The Cure, In Pieces, Communication
For the fans of: Relient K, Copeland, Sherwood
Listen: Myspace

Release date 24.09.2009
Cell Records

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