Maritime – Glass Floor

Glass Floor

Even when The Promise Ring was going strong, founding members Davey von Bohlen and Dan Didier had a side project, Vermont, which showed off a more quiet, folk-influenced side of the musicians. Now that The Promise Ring has broken up for good, von Bohlen and Didier decided that, instead of making Vermont a full-time project, they’d start a new band, and they promptly enlisted ex-Dismemberment Plan bassist Eric Alexson and quickly went into the studio with producer extroidenaire J. Robbins to record the band’s debut.

Maritime picks up nicely where The Promise Ring’s last album, the slightly more eccentric Wood/Water left off, combining some of the more quiet and subtle sounds of Vermont. Von Bohlen’s trademark songwriting style – a bit quirky, a bit playful, and heavy on the rhymes – is still evident here, as is The Promise Ring’s poppy style, but there’s a maturity to the songwriting in Maritime that clearly shows growth, likely brought on not only by the musicians’ experience but von Bohlen’s recent struggle with a brain tumor.

The more acoustic feel of Maritime is evident on the quiet opener “The Window is the Door,” but this is really an intro to the album. “Sleep Around” is much more poppy, with a nice mix of 60s-influenced pop, horns, and catchy hooks. And from there, things pick up even more on the danceable “Some One Has to Die,” a surprisingly light and playful – and extremely contagious – take on some fairly dark lyrics.

I have to admit, the poppy, upbeat sounds of Maritime are more appealing to me than the more laid-back, subtle tunes. “King of Doves” and the somber “A Night Like This” aren’t quite up to speed with the catchy and jangly “James” and the light and airy “If All My Days Go By.” The pretty and personal-feeling “Lights” is perhaps the exception, and the sweet “Souvenirs” mixes the styles best on this album, turning into clearly the album’s highlight. But there’s not a single song that’s bad on here, even if this band did write and record Glass Floor quickly.

Maritime is already at work on a follow-up to Glass Floor, sure to exhibit a band that’s had time to play together and contribute even more. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for these Promise Ring guys, as everything they’ve done so far is extremely catchy and strong, and while not every song on Glass Floor is a gem, the best ones here are so good, I can only assume Maritime will be a step forward even for these artists’ illustrious careers.