Maps for Travelers - Change Your Name
Record Label: No Sleep
Release Date: August 27
You probably wouldn't guess that Change Your Name is the debut record from Missouri post-hardcore band Maps for Travelers. You probably wouldn't expect to hear songs like the piano-heavy "They're Learning Fast," the Fugazi throwback "World On a Wire," and the straight-up anthem "Matter of Time" all on the same album, and you sure as hell wouldn't expect them all to work so well together. But somehow Maps for Travelers make it work, and the result is one of the best post-hardcore debuts of the year.
"Good Life" opens like a roundhouse kick to the throat, only to pull back and show off RL Brooks' much improved vocals. The song swells again during its heavy chorus, the first exposure to Brooks' prominent bark. His voice is shown off best on the track "Swoon," in which he shows off his range, utilizing falsetto at the start of the song before it hits an almost grunge-like chorus. The re-recorded version of "Get a New Face" puts the original to shame; Brooks' screaming fits far better over Zach Brotherton's technical riffs than his crooning. The aforementioned "Matter of Time" is an obvious standout, arguably the most radio-ready track on the album, featuring one of the album's best choruses and - what's that in the outro? Horns? You're damn right, and I don't know how, but it fits in perfectly. Oh, and there it is again in pseudo-ballad "Figures in White." The clearest winner, though, is catchy first single "World On a Wire." Brotherton rules the track, with drummer Kevin Medina setting the backdrop. The song's chorus is a high point on the album, and you'll be hard-pressed to keep from belting it out.
Now, perhaps it's cliche to close out an album with the slowest and quietest song, but "They're Learning Fast," is a hard song not to like. It's more ambient than the rest of the album, featuring only droning vocals, piano, horns, and percussion - but it's a route the band could obviously take in the future. The only place the band really seem to fall short is the lyrics. Not to say they're particularly bad, just at times trite, such as "I'm such a fool for all of your empty words and stares/ I should have known never to trust a word that you said/ untruthful liar," from "Figures in White," or "Things will never be the same/ what's said is said/ it can't be taken away," from "All Your Friends." While the lyrics may not be the most articulate, the way they're fervently shouted makes up for it, especially in the latter track, which is Brooks' most impassioned vocal performance on the record.
We've had a few good post-hardcore debuts this year - Night Verses, Sparrows, I the Mighty. Add Maps for Travelers to that list, give Change Your Name a listen, and get ready to fall in love. Maps for Travelers are a fresh name for the genre, and damned if they don't have the potential to be one of the biggest.