Maritime - Human Hearts (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Human Hearts (2011)


Usually when a band drops a new album, it's judged within the context of that group's discography. Not so for Maritime; vocalist/guitarist Davey von Bohlen has a lifelong legacy of music with the Promise Ring, Cap'n Jazz and Vermont (remember Vermont?). The dude was, for a while, an emo icon whose net worth was estimated based on a single album, Nothing Feels Good, released when he was 23. But the truth is, the guy has been cranking out stunning indie rock tunes for a long time now.

von Bohlen's songs have always been, scientifically speaking, the catchiest. Even when he slowed things down for tPR's swan song, Wood/Water, the melodies and hooks were supreme. Maritime started off in a similar place with Glass Floor in 2004, at least in terms of energy. But gradually, von Bohlen has gotten back to his indie rock high point without recycling, culminating in 2007's Heresy and the Hotel Choir. That record found a balance between indie rock and new wave; new album Human Hearts goes a step further and betters Heresy as a result.

The group delivers 10 infectious indie hits with a dance floor vendetta. There's definitely an '80s influence that draws from Modern English and the Cure circa The Head on the Door. I have to say Depeche Mode is in there too; "Faint of Hearts" knicks/edits the chorus from "Enjoy the Silence", which the band covered for A.V. Undercover. This puts the band in line with fellow pop peddlers like Phoenix and Tokyo Police Club.

Speaking of A.V. Undercover, did you know that Maritime's "It's Casual" is the theme song for the second season? Did you know that song is awesome? It's so awesome that Maritime chose to open Human Hearts with it. A shoegaze-y guitar strum gives way to a dance drumbeat before von Bohlen comes in with his trademark warble. It's a fun tune. "Paraphernalia" and "Black Bones" repeat the trick before "Peopling of London" mellows out the pace a bit.

"Faint of Hearts" is another mellow number, a subtle and gracious love song. I like it, but I also forget it once "Annihilation Eyes" comes on. That song is the strongest of the set, and perhaps the most Promise Ring-esque. It stomps and strums and the hook is huge. The record gradually winds down after this party-starter.

Maritime has consistently improved itself with each record. Human Hearts makes that growth an impressive four-album streak. I miss the Promise Ring, but with releases like this one, it's hard not to live in the now.