Mazes are a four-piece band from London, whose sound evokes the fuzzy guitars and hook-filled choruses of 1990s indie rock. The Pains of Being Pure Heart borrowed the sound of My Bloody Valentine’s shoegaze back in 2009. Earlier this year, Yuck paid homage to the power pop of Teenage Fanclub. Now Mazes have channeled the indie rock made famous by the likes of Pavement, Guided By Voices, and Sebadoh. Their debut album, A Thousand Heys was released this year to a largely positive reception (a 4/5 from the Guardian, a 6.2 from Pitchfork), and I caught them this week at Oxford’s very own Jericho Tavern.
Mazes formed in 2009 in Manchester, and have spent the last couple of years touring with similar acts in this current wave of DIY-ethos guitar groups (think: Sic Alps and Wavves) alongside putting out their debut on FatCat. Album opener ‘Go Betweens’ is a brilliantly executed slice of indie rock nostalgia, with a great jangly riff and catchy lyrics about youthful romance, and ‘Most Days’ and ‘Bowie Knives’ continue in the same vein. Of the thirteen tracks on the album, just three clock-in at longer than three minutes. Short, intense bursts of 90s nostalgia is what these guys do best. When I saw them live, their onstage energy was certainly apparent. ‘Summer Hits or J + J Don’t Like’ proved to be a highlight, as did the summery number ‘Cenotaph’, sounding as if it came straight from Woods’ last album.
For the most part, Mazes fail to bring anything new to the table. They evoke and imitate rather than further a tried-and-tested sound. ‘Boxing Clever’ sounds like a cover of Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus, both lyrically and musically, whilst ‘Death House’ would fit onto the tracklist of any Guided By Voices album. Sebadoh can’t see this as much of a criticism however, for Mazes are set to open their US tour later this month; the ultimate accolade for a band whose sound is entirely indebted to their work. Mazes are one to keep an eye on in the coming years.