Mazes - A Thousand Heys (Cover Artwork)


A Thousand Heys (2011)

Fat Cat

English up-and-comers Mazes have variously been described as indie, punk, pop, surf-pop, "lo-fi," "brat-punk," "fuzz pop" and more. They've also been said to be deeply indebted to Pavement. I love placing bands in genres (really do) but this one seems to be tougher than others, which is odd, because they play a pretty simple form of won't find any 16-minute-long epics here.

But never mind genres–this record is damned good. It's simple, buzzing, and catchy, and it's an energetic, brief blast, clocking in under half an hour across 13 tracks, and recorded especially lo-fi, guitars being played out through a TV speaker, and parts of the albums recorded on a barge in the river Thames. Vocals can sound a little indistinct (I wish I knew the words to "Most Days", as it's awe-inspiringly catchy), but the sound fits the music like a glove.

As for the songs themselves, they're fantastic, sweet, hook-filled numbers. The gorgeous, jangling guitars in the happy-sad "Cenetaph", the slowed-down snottiness in "Surf and Turf", and the saccharine indie pop in "Summer Hits" all seem to come naturally to the band. "Vampire Jive" is a lovely, minute-long Ramones-y romp, and "Eva" is nothing more than electric guitar and voice for 26 seconds. Even this is lodged in my head, my friends. Lyrics tend to be unhappy (or even psychotic) on the record, though most of the songs sound the opposite–then again, this is not always the case, with tunes like "No Way" being musically melancholy, which they do as well as jolly.

The album has a couple of let-downs. Those indistinct vocals and lack of a lyric sheet (or any web source for them, but that will probably appear) will irk the one who needs to sing along. Also, sometimes it can be a tad repetitive, like in "Wait Anyway", but that's no big deal.

It's not a life-changer, or a game-changer, but this is a charming record with some of the hookiest tunes cut this year. Mazes could well be big, but regardless of that, you should grab this if you love your indie. Or fuzz-pop. Or pop-punk. Or, you know...