Maps – Turning the Mind
On Maps’ Mercury nominated debut album, bedroom recording prodigy James Chapman sounded like an especially blissed-out shoegazer (if such a paradox is possible), layering gauzy guitars over organs, synths and unhurried drums, and drawing inevitable Spacemen 3 and Low comparisons as a result. While Chapmans’ almost somnolent vocals ensure that follow-up Turning the Mind is instantly recognizable to fans, it’s a creative departure for the Northampton musician in other ways. That gentle guitar fuzz that coated We Can Create has been culled and replaced with stark pianos and 80s synth-pop stylings, and the lyrical focus has shifted inwards to extreme emotions, chemical imbalance and even aggression: “I will hit you hard as I can,” Chapman warns on I Dream of Crystal. Musically, Maps’ new sheen is frequently too glaring, but when it combines with an uplifting sequence – as on Love Will Come or Everything is Shattering – the results are still quite special.