MAZES “The Violent Tapes”
(Sanzimat International)

Mazes—not to be confused with “the British wankers who stole the name”—is a Chicago-based band with ties to far-flung cities like Buenos Aires, New York, Italy, Moscow, and San Fran. The Violent Tapes, the band’s third album, was written, performed, and produced by members Edward Anderson, Federico Bramanti, and Charles d’Autremont, with the help of numerous guest contributors.

The Violent Tapes is full of sunny, breezy, 60s-indebted psych pop. It’s territory that’s been well explored, and while Mazes don’t necessarily add anything groundbreaking, here they’ve produced a solid album that is certainly never bad. In fact, its best moments are really, really good. Songs like “West Coast Revolution” and “Subversive Glove” grab your attention but feel effortless. “Missing Numbers,” “Twinning,” and “White Faces” feature interesting change-ups that are surprising but never disjointed or unnatural.

To me, the main flaw of The Violent Tapes lies in its running time. “Det Är Lugnt” could be cut without much detriment to the album as a whole, and “Theme for Violent Tapes” seems like an appropriate closer. “Reuñion,” “International Waters,” and “No Hay Cambio” are all short, solo acoustic numbers that provide some variety when contrasted with the more straight-forward pop songs, but aren’t really noteworthy on their own.

All in all, The Violent Tapes is an interesting, accessible album that shows that Mazes are capable of outshining their psych contemporaries with tight arrangements and catchy hooks. When it works, it really works; when it doesn’t, it’s never worse than average. Buy it for “West Coast Revolution,” “Subversive Glove,” and “Pilar.”

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-- Brandon Spaulding