Of the criticisms lobbed at Beware and Be Grateful, the one that sticks out the most to me is that Maps & Atlases’ mathy sensibilities have fallen by the wayside in favour of a poppier sound. Well, it’s kind of inescapable; Beware & Be Grateful does sound like a pop album, but it’s still incredibly nuanced and technical - much more so than people are going to give it credit for. Besides, it’s the band they were destined to evolve into; small glimpses of this poppy, care-free nature are found when tracing their older material (even 2010’s Perch Patchwork). Even in their cerebral nature, a lot of the songs on Perch Patchwork actually seemed incredibly warm and undeniably catchy, so why then are so many surprised by the direction of their musical progression?
Beware & Be Grateful is a peppy album full of songs soaked in gorgeous rhythm guitars, jubilant electronics, and funky choruses that beg to be sung along to, and like I said, it’s still technical. See, I like to compare Maps & Atlases’ approach to music to prog rock aficionados Rush. Think about it, Rush is a band able to keep broad appeal without compromising their technical integrity. Their music is accessible and fun, but also convoluted and nuanced. Beware & Be Grateful is much the same: easy on the ears but difficult to wrap one’s head around. So even though Beware & Be Grateful has the unfair disadvantage of people not favouring their direction and too easily dismissing their brand of music as simple, it’ll reward those who stick with it long enough to gorge on all of the neat little quirks. Listen more attentively and it’s like hearing two bands play at once: a tamer TV on the Radio mixed with the technical prowess of a band like Rush.
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