Smile Politely

Album Review: Maritime Human Hearts

Human Hearts is a throwback – not the kind Promise Ring or Dismemberment Plan fans may still be hoping for, though. The album obviously has draws from classic rock and alternative, but it still eschews the history of the bands Maritime spawned from.

More than in previous efforts, the Milwaukee band relies heavily on the sticky-sweet, new wave-centric sounds of synthesizers and chorus guitar effects for their latest record. There are also elements of classic rock present at first listen, but never the proto-emo rock that launched the careers of these musicians. Human Hearts is not much of a departure from the ‘Maritime sound’, however.

The sound Davey von Bohlen & Co. have forged as Maritime is notable for its cool effervescence. Their pop music is neither heavy nor soft, and it never seems to be trying to hard. This album feels much the same way; a comfortable collection of songs that unite the aesthetics of the band’s previous albums.

The four-song stretch from tracks four through seven really cements how good this album is. “Peopling of London” is the most reminiscent of 2006’s We, The Vehicles of any song on the album (which is a good thing). “Air Arizona” is a song that sticks in your brain and “Faint of Hearts,” while it may drone on, has beauty in its repetition (think “Dramamine”) and its broken up guitars and vocals give it an endearing warmth.

It is not much of a stretch to say “Annihilation Eyes” is the best song on the album. It comes right at you with chugging guitars and perfectly syncopated lead lines made to get feet shuffling: it is at least the most fun song on the album. It, more than any other song, embodies what the band has always done so well – blended the intriguing rhythms of Von Bohlen’s guitar with the high-pitched leads of guitarist Dan Hinz.

Maritime have always worked because their songs have a post-punk edge and a upbeat aura fit for dancing. The blending of styles on Human Hearts does not necessarily make it better than previous Maritime albums – and to fans still yearning for another Promise Ring album, it is another disappointment. This album, though, is successful because it is a sum of the bands past endeavors and because Maritime doesn’t have to be The Promise Ring or The Dismemberment Plan to be good.

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