Wednesday 13 February 2019

The Maitlands - Bury The Hatchet EP

With a new line-up and a focus not previously associated with Carl Ingram’s band of merry men, The Maitlands return with a five-track EP Bury The Hatchet that feels like a significant game changer for them.

Opening track Dangerously Sober muses on the issues of giving up the booze, the OCD habits that can kick in when a seasoned drinker knocks it on the head and has a void to fill. There’s a cheeky reference to a character called Jim’s dalliance with “columbian marching powder.” Structurally it keeps the listener on the edge, jumping around schizophrenically, returning to a part then departing as quickly as it arrived. But in the new Maitlands world it feels like there’s firm hands at the wheel and they’re not careering recklessly close to the edge. They do this without losing the thrill and urgency of the ride.

She’s A Ghost adopts a more traditional approach structually, the music subsumed to Carl’s rich evocative voice for the main, a riff dancing underneath through most of the song, as he tells the story of “inappropriate Joseph” and “Lyn who was lucky with industrial machinery” with a warmth that only comes from observing such characters and the humdrum lives they live.

Last year’s single Kisses For The Masses might swoon like some late eighties romantic indie band musically, beautifully uplifting Carl’s voice in the opening bars, but it’s got a powerful swipe against the tax-avoiding everything on demand subscription culture that’s prevalent today. It’s pointed, intelligently observed commentary. As it builds there’s a military style beat that accentuates the “them against us” message of the song.

I Can Not Complain’s chorus, basically repeating the song’s title, recalls their previous scattered approach, edgy and seemingly about to breakdown, but the verses deal with the boredom of life and day time TV and leave us with the message things could be worse. Structurally the music skips from idea to idea, but with a sense of purpose and a destination.

The final track Daunting From Derker has also been released as a single last year and is probably closest to the old-school Maitlands sound, recalling a drunken and predictably delayed tram journey back to Carl’s home. The desperation of being stranded with strange people isn’t bereft of a tongue of cheek nod and a wink either as you’d expect from them and musically it sees them stretch their legs a bit further. There’s enough ideas in here for half a dozen songs yet still the band fuse it into something resembling the musical accompaniment to a parable.

Bury The Hatchet is the sound of a band coming together, taking its disparate unorganised parts and fusing them into a glorious whole. From entertainers that didn’t take themselves too seriously and didn’t appear to expect us to either, we’re suddenly faced with a band that sounds focused and assured without losing the charm that characterised them before.

The Maitlands are on Facebook and Twitter.

The EP is available on their Bandcamp

They play Glossop Crystal Ballroom (February 22), Carlisle Warwick Bazaar Cinema (23), Manchester Star And Garter (March 9, with Lynchs), Glossop The Globe (16, with The K's) and Northwich The Salty Dog (April 12).

Follow Even The Stars on Twitter at @eventhestarsuk and like our Facebook page for all the latest updates

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