Map of the Sky (Time Bomb Recordings)
By: Alex Steininger
Hailing from Los Angeles, this four-piece band blends pop hooks with an emo touch. Using science and the universe as a metaphor for life, they're successfully able to relate human feelings to the universe without sounding silly. On their second release, they show their ability to construct a good melody, but they still don't lose their humor.
With a poppy backdrop setting the scene, "Gravity Girl" begins the album. Smooth vocals carry out the song, while the light guitar flutters around to softly lay the hooks upon the listener. The guitar and vocals may be fluffy, but the rhythm section helps paint a different picture, giving the song a giant push to ensure it will tap around in your head and keep on ringing after everything has ended.
"Negative Type" takes a stab at hype and fame. With a comical edge wrapped around the hooks, the band is able to draw you in and get you laughing one minute, and then the next they'll have your lips moving and toes tapping. Not as poppy as the opener, this time they shove off into the post-punk/pop-rock world. The guitar helps lead the band through some energetic times with a few power chord buzzes, while the rhythm section hammers away to no end. The only thing that doesn't sit right with me is the Harvey Danger "Flagpole Sita" feel. Near the end the band starts yelling, "underrated, overage and everyone's afraid to accept me," which had me spinning my head wondering if I was still listening to Crumbox or if something slipped and now Harvey Danger was playing. But, after a few listens, this eerie feeling will go away and you'll start to enjoy the song.
Offering up some words of advice, "Crush the Star" is a positive, optimistic, and uplifting song that will stun you the first time you listen to it, and have you feeling every word each additional spin. Easily the most beautiful piece of work on this album, the song will soothe over any tears you might be expressing with its whole-hearted, good-natured vibe. The only draw back is the song length. After a few minutes it starts to bleed into five minutes, over staying its welcome a bit too much.
Adding a dose of punk rock to the mix, "Fourth of July" follows the lead of the bass into a hook-filled, edgy number that will have you singing along, bouncing, and humming the song with ease. The guitars have no problem keeping things energetic, while the bass keeps your hips shaking and body moving. Then there are the drums, which always have the beats for your feet to feed off of.
Pumping things up with a beefy rock 'n roll feel, layered on top of some emo, "Purolator" shows the band at their most aggressive. Power chord chops yell through the song, while the drummer takes to his kit like it's the end of the world. Then there is the bass, which matches everybody's energy with some deep grooves and hard-hitting lines. Slipping around with the emo feel, they're able to keep the outpour of emotions fluid behind the rock momentum.
Ending with another dose of humor, "Your Music's Dead" deals with an issue close to that of "Negative Type," but this time they're on the other side of the fence. Instead of poking fun at the star, they've decided to attack the kids who turn the trends into starts. With an underlined emo feel, they keep the pop alive and churn out a catchy number that has as much power as it does humor.
Definitely a catchy album, on your first listen you'll already have a few songs that are your 'favorite'. You know, the ones that'll be stuck in your head and you'll be singing along with even when the music's not playing. So, of course, you put back on the CD and find a new batch to call 'favorites'. I'll give this disc a B+.