Review: Maritime – Magnetic Bodies/Maps of Bones



4 OUT OF 5 NUTS!

magneticbodiesThe guys in Maritime have a singular purpose: They aim to craft catchy indie pop with a decidedly melancholy slant. That’s what they do, and they’re really darn good at it. The group was formed out of the wreckage of quasi-emo bands The Promise Ring and Dismemberment Plan, so the collective members of Maritime have a lot of weapons and experience at their disposal. The seasoned group tackles the dance-punk of “Light You Up” and the peppy groove of “Roaming Empire” with equal zeal.

Perhaps the group’s greatest asset (and the thing that some people aren’t going to be able to get past) is frontman Davey von Bohlen’s plaintive croon. I’d use the word “mopey,” but that has such a pejorative connotation. To me, it calls to mind such sensitive fellows as Morrissey and Josh Caterer (Smoking Popes), but some people like music to be happy or something. Or at least, not openly weeping. Go figure.

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Not that Magnetic Bodies/Maps of Bones is sad as such. It’s really more dissatisfied, or restless. Above all else, von Bohlen and his bandmates convey a deep sense of yearning that holds all the tracks nicely in place. The narrator of “Satellite Love” is hardened and wisened by past experience (“brave is just repeating getting up/not settling”) but still aches for a human interaction. There is an undercurrent of optimism underneath this album that prevents a complete sense of helplessness from taking over. In “Light You Up,” the narrator goes for classic romantic (or at least an illusory version of it) by declaring “I would fight a war/to shout your name.” The balance of light and dark keeps Magnetic Bodies from being a real wrist-slitter, though I do enjoy one of those once in a while.

The world of Maritime is cold and mean. It’s the hat-and-gloves Milwaukee of late January. This is the same Midwest in Paul Westerberg’s “Skyway” or Jeff Tweedy’s “Reservations.” It’s harsh, but it’s livable. Bundle up.

 

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