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Mazes

Mazes

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Album Review

In his day job with the 1900s, Edward Anderson crafts highly arranged, lushly orchestrated songs that are indebted to the Bee Gees, the Zombies, and groups of their ilk that were interested in making sweeping, huge pop songs. In his band Mazes, Anderson scales the ambition and size down into more intimate songs and shows he works well on a small scale, too. Working with 1900s bandmate Caroline Donovan, Charles D'Autremont, and various friends, Anderson spent four years in bedrooms, apartments, and small studios working on Mazes, writing and recording quickly and trying to capture the moment as it happens. The layout is simple, Anderson and D'Autremont play most of the instruments, and Donovan sings lovely harmonies throughout. The resulting music is simple too, very sparse and not at all fussy. Most of the songs are carried by Anderson's plaintive voice or the sweet melodies he writes, they don't need a whole lot of tricks surrounding them. That being said, there are still enough well-chosen instrumental touches to keep things from falling into a complacent pattern. They don't use lo-fi as an excuse to forgo caring about structure and sound, it's just not as big a deal as it is with the 1900s. Speaking of his day job, it's good to hear Anderson exploring avenues he hasn't with the 1900s, like on the very retro-jangle "Face Down on Forest Roads," the loose and almost funky "Things That I Threw in the Well," or the hushed "Heather on Heather." It's also good to hear him write some songs that would have been keepers on a 1900s album, like the blindingly bright "Cat State Comity". It's an almost perfect formula for a side project — it sounds close enough to the main band to keep fans of that band happy but still stretches enough to make it worth existing as a separate entity. Mazes isn't the kind of album an indie pop loving listener absolutely has to have in their collection, but if you are a 1900s fan, it is.

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active:

The Chicago trio Mazes began as a side project for two members of the chamber pop group the 1900s. Edward Anderson, who serves as chief songwriter and vocalist in the 1900s, and vocalist Caroline Donovan teamed with painter/musician Charles D'Autremont to form the group in 2004. In contrast to the 1900s' rich and tightly arranged sound, Mazes take a more relaxed and immediate approach to the writing and recording process, to the point of sometimes writing and recording a song in one daylong session....
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Mazes, Mazes
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