Written by: PP on 14/09/2007 13:52:37

I have one very vivid memory of Mae when they played on the first ever Give It A Name festival in April of 2005. The band was playing overseas for the first time ever, and it was in front of something like 8,000 people. Vocalist Dave Elkins stopped after a few songs and said "I have to get a memory of this", popped out his digital camera and took a photo of the massive crowd from the stage. This is how I learnt to know the band, as a humble, down to earth act, genuinely thankful for people checking out their music. I absolutely loved "The Everglow" and "Destination Beautiful", songs like "Summertime" are still on my regular playlist. These albums projected that same down-to-earth approach as Elkins had on stage. Their mix of indie rock and pop was perfect, the melodies were soothing but not too simple. "Singularity", the band's third album, effectively takes a massive dump on that image, and that sound. It's a radical change away into a less balladic, more cheezy radio-pop approach. It doesn't sound down to earth anymore, which was the biggest appeal of the band. It doesn't sound as individualistic and unique any longer. I know you changed to a major label in between, Mae, but what happened?

While the sound of "Singularity" will certainly flood the band with success in the radios, MTV and on the mainstream press, it lacks all the elements that made their last two albums so enjoyable. The melodies have become much too predictable. The single "Sometimes I Can't Make It Alone" has sugarsweet melodies and a chorus that'll stick in your head for weeks, but it's so obvious it makes me want to vomit. And what's with the keyboards? I know they were used slightly on "The Everglow", but not on every freaking song! The result is that many songs don't actually sound like Mae anymore, they instead sound like power-pop versions of Motion City Soundtrack. I'm even tempted to call it mainstream pop punk!

The genre switch is imminent and so unnecessary. The band were doing incredible playing indie rock with complex pop melodies. There was no need to make the songs simpler and remove all the acoustic material almost entirely. Songs like "Sun" were semi-acoustic, and it was part of their niche. That's why listening to "Singularity" is so painful to me. The band's identity has been lost in the flawless production and songwriter assisted choruses. This isn't the Mae we loved. I guess we'll have to stick to The Spill Canvas now, although I suspect that their next album might make a similar move.

But aside from its lack of identity, the album is very consistent. Every song is equally good, and the choruses are really well written, suggesting that the songwriting talent hasn't been lost. There are moments were old Mae peaks from underneath the perfect production; "Waiting" being probably the best example. These are also the moments when the album truly shines, the quiet passages have so much more meaning to them than the loud three-chord pop punk guitar lines.

So my advice to you is this. If you were a fan of Mae in the past, you are going to dislike this album. A lot. If you are new to the band, don't ever go check out their old material as "Singularity" will pale in comparison; but my guess is that you're more into the mainstream pop punk/power pop anyway. It's not a bad album by many standards, it's just not a Mae album.


Download: Brink Of Disaster, Crazy 8s, Sic Semper Tyrannis
For the fans of: Motion City Soundtrack, The Academy Is..., The Early November, The Starting Line
Listen: Myspace

Release date 14.08.2007
Capitol Records

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