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We Can Create

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Album Review

Crafting a spun-sugar fusion of electronic music, symphonic indie, and dream pop from the confines of his bedroom and a 16-track tape recorder, James Chapman is the one-man band known as Maps. On his debut album, We Can Create, Chapman displays a flair for widescreen arrangements that would normally sound more at home in an orchestra hall than a bedroom, particularly on the soaring "You Don't Know Her Name," which updates the sweetly sleepy vocals and skyward guitars of classic shoegaze with gurgling synths that recall Boards of Canada. Likewise, We Can Create's best moments pair melodies that feel familiar with arrangements that add just the right amount of strangeness: "Liquid Sugar"'s melody makes it feel like a lost track from Loveless, but its delicate strings and synth washes are gentler and more unexpected than yet another homage to My Bloody Valentine's guitar maelstroms. Maps' hybrid of dreamy rock and atmospheric electronic music isn't particularly original; shades of everyone from Boces-era Mercury Rev and Chapterhouse to Dntel, M83, Ulrich Schnauss, and especially Spiritualized pop up on We Can Create (later tracks such as the epic "Lost My Soul" and "Don't Fear" give the impression of coming from a pixilated Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space). However, while Chapman may not take his influences in radical directions, his own spin on these sounds is accessible and appealing. We Can Create will appeal to anyone who enjoys dream pop in any of its past or present incarnations.

Customer Reviews

Pop version of My Bloody Valentine

The album description is spot-on. We Can Create largely remakes classic and edgy shoegaze (especially My Bloody Valentine's “Loveless”) in a pop-friendly and accessible form. Some of the songs are obvious rip-offs and writing should be credited to My Bloody Valentine. The singer’s voice is also repetitious by the end of the album. That being said, it’s a pleasant and disposable distraction.


Formed: 2006 in Northampton, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Originally going under the name Short Break Operator, Maps is essentially Northampton U.K. sound sculptor James Chapman, who combines indie electronic sounds with atmospheric, sleepy rock that owes as much to Spiritualized and My Bloody Valentine as it does to Four Tet and Boards of Canada. After realizing that music was his first love, in 2005 Chapman bought a 16-track recorder and began making songs inspired by Spacemen 3 and the Beloved. EPs such as Start Something, which was released via Last...
Full Bio
We Can Create, Maps
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