The comeback of Manchester’s The Maple State might perhaps be a little too niche for some, but for those who liked their mid-noughties indie-rock, it’s an extremely pleasant surprise! After a series of well received EP releases backed with some pretty sought after support slots in the mid 00’s, The Maple State seemed to fade into the distance after releasing a bunch of demo’s back in 2010.
But at the end of 2015, sketches of songs were sent around between members Greg, Christian and Richard. Despite living in different countries, the trio began to develop and flesh out these sketches which lead to the reprise of The Maple State and the making of their first longer player ‘The Things I Heard At The Party‘.
It’s a very interesting concept for a band that haven’t been active in nearly a decade, to get back together to make an album that fans have been waiting years to hear. On first listen, it’s clear that The Maple State’s charming pop sensibilities are in full force, but with a more considered and warm punk-rock pulse replacing the spiky punk-pop exuberance of their past.
The opening two tracks carry an indie-pop majesty that I can already hear being used on countless TV shows. ‘The Things I Heard At The Party‘ is inspired by frontman Greg’s love of one note folk songs and its simplistic melody coupled with rousing, narrative driven vocals makes for a timeless spot of songwriting. ‘Something In The Water‘ on the other hand is a straight, catchy guitar pop tune. It’s about that peppy guitar line that sweeps over the top of a jaunty rhythm that leads to a very sing-along-able chorus.
I was pretty interested to hear ‘Cold Theatre II’, as I thought it was going to act as a follow up to an early b-side that I had on repeat back in my uni days. Musically, this is far removed from the lo-fi indie ballad of yore and instead we get another sprightly guitar pop tune. It’s all mile-a-minute drums with a punk-rock chord progression that serves as an equally heartwarming moment, particularly with the reprise of lyrical refrain “It was always you“.
Although there are plenty of upbeat tracks here, it hasn’t quite got the fuzzy edge of their previous EP. This is a lot simpler and cleaner, both melodically and sonically, which gives a lot of breathing space for the vocal hooks and guitar lines to speak out. It’s a cliche for sure, but this is definitely a matured way of writing, but one that I think suits them. It’s quite evenly paced as a whole. There’s definitely a few more charged up moments (‘Winner‘ and ‘Deadline‘ being the best examples here), but for the most part it’s all skipping beats and floaty jangle pop melodies with tracks like ‘Cannonball‘ and ‘Sexy Jam‘ leading the band to blissful new territories.
The Things I Heard At The Party is the musical equivalent of meeting up with an old uni friend; they may seem older and wiser, but there is still a glint in their eye that hasn’t forgotten the old days. This rings true with the lyrical themes too, as Greg romanticises getting old and getting drunk, but still with a wise head (key lyric: “we are not the bright, young things that we were only yesterday“). A bit like the Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly album that came out last month, I found this a charming and relatable indie-pop set that is considered in its approach and sincere in its delivery. This might not change the world, but The Maple State have returned with a well needed hug of an album that I think many will embrace happily again.