Its refreshing to hear bands showing their influences without becoming a fiftieth-wave hybrid, a la The ePoxies. Maps of Norway obviously love 1980's new-wave. However, they dont set out to make a copy of that, they fuse the sound into their own artistic development, and Guilt Ridden Pops release Die Off Songbird is the end result. The record starts off with a minimalist intro that segues perfectly into the mid-tempo, dancey Cage the Lions. Here, singer Rebecca Leigh shows her pipes with a sultry delivery as Jeff Ball holds an almost robotic beat.
Map of Norways approach is subtle and nuanced post-punk/new-wave with strong, danceable beats. Its all tied together with consistent and impressive vocals that convey the bands emotion. The music is minimal and sounds almost sleepy at times, especially with the Blue tracks placed throughout the record as quiet, instrumental intermissions. Cage the Lions is a nice, dancey pop song, not unlike a subtle Faint but with a vocal delivery that considers itself more as an instrument than as means of conveying words. The bands bass and guitars are consistently pushed into the background, with Leigh and Ball forming the core. The rhythms are very repetitive, which makes the band reliant on Leigh to carry them, which she effectively does. The more minimal songs dont do much for me, such as in the eight minute Strict Ritual, which goes on way too long for my punk rock attention span. But when the band adds a little more nuance they are more interesting. Generally, Leigh gives of a sensual vibe, but this is sometimes replaced with a more atmospheric and eerie tone, such as in Talker, with noisy synth wailing in the background.
The production reminds me of 1980's bouncy synth music like Talking Heads or even The Cure and early industrial. Theres a simplicity in such heavy emphasis on the beat that induces a near hypnosis.
This just isnt for me. If you like your music minimal and ethereal, with 80's influence and layered but subtle backgrounds, have at it. However, I cant see this disc making many appearances in my personal rotation.
5.8 / 10
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