An album for long summer nights, by a band relishing all that they have right now.
Mischa Pearlman 2011-04-11
After a wait that feels like years, the English sun is finally beginning to emerge for the first time in 2011. While it’s bound not to last, the arrival of Mazes’ debut album at this spring awakening further magnifies that impending sense of summer insouciance brought on by the bright blue skies. Recorded afloat on the Thames in an old light-boat, A Thousand Heys is the sound of life suddenly getting better; of worries dissolving and concerns dissipating as the nights draw out and cares dilute with every sumptuous sip of beer. The musical influences that converge to create that feeling of wasted, youthful abandon, however, come less from London than a disparate variety of times and places.
The scuzzy jangle of opener Go Betweens is could well be 1980s R.E.M. – the sound of students in Athens, GA waking up to yet another overly-warm day – while the discord of Surf & Turf / Maths Tag is redolent of the deliberately shambolic DIY sound of Male Bonding. Elsewhere, Summer Hits or J+J Don’t Like shares the careless, carefree optimism of slacker-poppers Happy Birthday, the twisted, dark tones of Wait Anyway sound like Sonic Youth channelling The Stooges in a delicious slice of noisy ennui, and ’Til I’m Dead is a quick-paced surge of melodic, grungy apathy that bounces joyously until it suddenly ends, giving way to a minute-long secret jangle that finishes the album.
By their very nature, these are superficial, sloppy pop songs that don’t say all that much – but that’s the point. These are simple, straight-up offerings that bristle and brim with the pleasures of life. Over in a little more than half an hour, A Thousand Heys is an exercise in ragged-edged spontaneity and transience, bursting with the joy of relishing what you have while it lasts, in the full knowledge that, some day, it’ll be gone. Whether Mazes are a band that to stand the test of time remains to be seen, but this is an enjoyable, exciting and mostly excellent snapshot of their lives as they are right now; and you can’t help but want to join them as the days grow longer and the nights lighter.