Mazes – A Thousand Heys
Record Label: Fat Cat
Release Date: April 12, 2011
Mazes are a London-based lo-fi quartet who have amassed an impressive catalog of singles and mixtapes for a band of just two years. A Thousand Heys is their proper full-length debut.
How Is It?
It was a little surprising at first, if only because prior to pressing play, I actually thought I was going to be listening to the follow-up to Mazes, the self-titled debut from the twee-ish side project of Caroline Donovan and Edward Anderson of Chicago psych-pop collective The 1900s. Once the initial shock of hearing this Mazes’ brand of distorted but highly melodic rock wore off, it gave way to pure delight.
A Thousand Heys sounds largely informed by ‘80s indie stalwarts like Dinosaur Jr., though only on a few occasions (“Wait Anyway” and “’Til I’m Dead”) does guitarist Jarin Tabata channel his inner J Mascis and explode with some real guitar heroics, remaining content mostly to pound out the rhythms to these primarily short, punchy tunes. The songs at times feel like a mish-mash of short-lived, barely realized ideas, which coupled with the raw production value conveys the ADD-addled and artfully disinterested image that’s all the rage among indie-rock bands. While this sounds like criticism, Mazes make it work, mainly because they take the pastiche all the way. Vocalist Jack Cooper often sounds like a bleary-eyed Stephen Malkmus in both delivery style and substance, offering prime slacker material like “Wasting away, getting by everyday, but it's fine, yeah it's alright by me,” on “Go Betweens”, as well as the Thurston Moore-esque “I never want to get out of bed,” on “No Way”.
Despite the obvious copycatting, A Thousand Heys is beguiling because it’s hooky as hell, and because Mazes’ freewheeling style gives the recording a very live feel, significantly upping the fun factor. Beneath the garage-y fuzz, there are also surprises like Cooper’s almost careful vocal performance on “Bowie Knives” and the tight jangle of “Cenetaph” that suggest there’s much more to come from this band besides devil-may-care posturing and feigned detachment. Mazes are a young, talented, and most of all, entertaining band who we can only hope will keep bringing the rock our way. Now, can we just do something about that name?