On their 2011 debut, London-based then four-piece Mazes displayed a real knack for knocking together distorted lo-fi guitar pop ditties. Sure, ‘A Thousand Heys’ was far from ground-breaking or especially complex, and the road of influence leading back to Pavement wasn’t a particularly long nor winding one, but it was a very strong and impressive debut release, received well both critically and publicly that deservedly made the band a name for themselves.
Almost two years on and the group find themselves one member down following the loss of guitarist Jarin Tabata and, with their second album, an almost unrecognisable sound. Where ‘A Thousand Heys’ channelled 90s slacker pop, ‘Ores & Minerals’ - as hinted at by the almost seven-minute long preview single ‘Bodies’ - kicks back with a much more experimental, Krautrock sound. Big choruses and fuzzy guitars are out; replaced instead by intricate guitar loops and repetitive drum patterns.
To follow a critically and publicly popular debut with something not only different but also less accessible and immediate is ambitious, brave, and worthy of respect in itself. But on ‘Ores & Minerals’ it’s also a risk that well and truly pays off for the band musically. ‘Bodies’ wriggles its way into your brain and nestles for far longer than its 6 minutes 53 seconds should allow, while songs like ‘Bite’, ‘Skulking’, and title track ‘Ores & Minerals’ hear Mazes at their repetitive best - where simple looping guitar and bass lines are intelligently built upon and expertly complemented by deft drum patterns.
Though the delight of ‘Ores & Minerals’ can take its time to fully show, and while songs like ‘Significant Bullet’ and ‘Leominster’ feel like slightly unnecessary inclusions and can cause the listening experience to drag slightly, this is a very impressive record with some truly excellent songs.
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