Map of the Universe are a rock trio from Miami, FL. Even though Miami is a huge city, you just don't hear a lot of bands coming from down there. I guess when you can just sit on the beach with a beer and pass the time, making music is not such a priority.
Now, astute readers will note that a few years back we reviewed another Miami rock band by the name of Bling
Bling. Well, take Bling Bling, lose their rhythm section, move one member over to drums, add a new bassist, and you have Map of the Universe. Same band, essentially. Ivan Marchena is the principal songwriter in both acts, so if you enjoyed what he was doing in Bling Bling, chances are you will enjoy this.
There are four songs here. Let's examine each.
The EP starts off with The Cop which is a nice post-punk tune. This will appeal to all those Interpol/Editors/Gang
of Four fans out there. It grinds along well enough, and is a decent tune, if somewhat normal for this resurgent genre.
The second track is called Plastic From Beauty, and for my money this is the real winner here. The drums are flat and thudding, the bass thumps heavily, and the guitar is all treble. Then, on the choruses, Marchena stomps on his chorus pedal, and for a few glorious moments Map of the Universe channel the early work of The
Church. All that, and the song itself is really catchy too, especially with Marchena chanting "I'm not thinking, I'm not thinking". This is toe-tappingly good.
Animal Peace is punkier, with more distortion, and vocals that remind me of early Television. It positively tears along at a breakneck pace. I bet this is really good live.
Finally, the EP ends with Social Royal, which is a slower song. This is almost garage rock a la Black
Rebel Motorcycle Club. The bass and guitar are sludgy, and the voice is just slightly echoed. Nice enough, but not my favorite on the EP.
If there is one criticism i have, it is that the production treads awfully close to lo-fi. Not like, say, the first Smog record, but more like that sound that Superchunk and Archers
of Loaf had on their first releases, where the guitars were a little too loud and feedbacky, and the voices were kind of buried in the mix. Now, i happen to have a real soft spot for that sort of stuff, and i think that the songs that Map of the Universe present here are strong enough to shine through the weaker production work. Still, i know that not everyone likes that, and that many listeners will be put off.
Overall, this is a promising debut. Except it's not really their debut, even if it is their first release under this name. Either way -- a fine job. Now, guys, when are you going to make the long trek up to Atlanta?