Reviews Maps of Norway Die Off Songbird

Maps of Norway

Die Off Songbird

It’s 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 don’t set out to make a copy of that, they fuse the sound into their own artistic development, and Guilt Ridden Pop’s 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 Norway’s approach is subtle and nuanced post-punk/new-wave with strong, danceable beats. It’s all tied together with consistent and impressive vocals that convey the band’s 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 band’s 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 don’t 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. There’s a simplicity in such heavy emphasis on the beat that induces a near hypnosis.

This just isn’t for me. If you like your music minimal and ethereal, with 80's influence and layered but subtle backgrounds, have at it. However, I can’t see this disc making many appearances in my personal rotation.

5.8 / 10Loren
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5.8 / 10

5.8 / 10

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