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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
We Can Create

Rating: 8/10 ?

June 18, 2007
British bedroom maestro James Chapman, also known as Maps, has released a number of singles on his own Last Space Recordings imprint, two of which - "Don't Fear" and the excellent "Lost My Soul" - are also featured on his full length debut We Can Create, an album filled to the brim with airy and emotional compositions. A handful of the songs on the album stick to your inner ear after the first listen, a number of others demand repeat listens for them to really pop, and a few manage to neither stick nor to pop at all.

We Can Create manages to foster a sound that is extremely intimate; you get the feeling that Chapman is singing for you and you alone, a sentiment that is enhanced even further by the warmth of the music. Imagine sitting in front of an open fire, in the wee hours of the night, just getting lost in a conversation where words are not really necessary, where you mainly just need to listen. This is the music of Maps.

"So Low, So High," "You Don't Know Her Name," "It Will Find You," and "Lost My Soul" are the stand out tracks here. These are all perfect little pop creations, both of the more uplifting variety (as in "So Low, So High") and of the more toned down sort (like "Lost My Soul"), and all very catchy. Chapman's melodies, all tuned to perfection, couple nicely with his solid vocals and the album's well conducted production. To aid with the latter, producer Valgeir Sigurdsson has lent a hand, spicing up the sound with a cool Icelandic air that carries echoes of geothermal islanders Sigur Rs, Mm, and Bjrk. We Can Create is a very multi-faceted record, and had Chapman elected to produce the whole thing himself, the result might not have been as sturdy overall.

However, on some of the tracks, We Can Create does lose a bit of steam. Certain songs sound a bit uninspired, almost as if Chapman was sitting on a six-song smasher but elected to phone it in for a few extra cuts to flesh out a full-length album. In its finished form the album is still well above average, although you might find yourself reaching for the remote every so often; when the good songs are of such high quality, skipping through a bit of fodder is a natural impulse.

Chapman is obviously a talented songwriter, and for his sophomore effort one can only hope that he brings enough unreleased material to allow for the weeding out of weaker tracks. As it stands We Can Create is a bit overgrown, but a number of excellent atmospheric compositions still manage to shine from amongst the mediocre tracks. A singular listen to "Lost My Soul" is enough to convince anyone that Maps will be pointing the way to great and wonderful music in the future.

Reviewed by Daniel Svanberg
A contributing writer for LAS, Daniel Svanberg now lives in Boston, far far away from Sweden, where he once lived, although the weather is the same.

See other reviews by Daniel Svanberg



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