Mae – “(A)fternoon EP”folk

Mae is a band with something of an identity crisis to work through. While the world — or at least the world that remembers them — recalls a relatively adventurous pop-punk group experimenting with the boundaries of pop music, the music you’ll find on (m)orning and (a)fternoon completely shatters the idea of boundaries. Mae has created a hybrid sound which owes as much to math-rock groups like Biffy Clyro as it does to alterna-rockers in the vein of Incubus, with not a bit of pop-punk drivel to muddy up the waters.

The band may only be two-thirds done with their opus, but they’ve already redefined what can be done with the EP as a modern form, creating with (a)fternoon an eight-track songscape that plays just as well as a suite as the songs do on an individual level. A lot of this may owe to the fact that these EPs are almost albums in themselves — the first two combined are enough to fill an 80-minute CD. But it’s clear that the band has a strong artistic vision for where they want these three albums to go.

A few individual songs do stand out from the pack. “The Fight Song (Crash and Burn)” is an epic eight minute romp that rock programmers should be drooling over, complete with stuttering percussion that forces you immedately out of your comfort zone as you listen. “In Pieces,” meanwhile, throws time-signature expectations out the window, an anthemic song that is going to drive listeners wild in a live setting. And the instrumental “Falling Into You” is an absolutely stunning example of a band throwing caution to the wind and simply making the music they want to make, for whatever audience chooses to come along for a listen.

Once we have them all together, able to be heard as one fluid composition, it may be difficult not to put these three EPs among the most innovative efforts of the past decade in the world of pop music. But taken on its own merits, (a)fternoon is just as impressive. I can’t think of a better way to spend my musical dollar than on this magnificent effort.

Reprinted with permission from Stereo Subversion.

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