The Maybes? – Promise

The Maybes?
Promise

A juddering feedback fade-in intros first track “Turn Me Over” – a song that is one continuous power chord crescendo from start to finish. The Maybes? (why the question mark?) are at the very least effective attention grabbers. “This is my last communique” sings lead Maybe? Nick Ellis, a little offhandedly perhaps, given that this is the first track on the album, right? The drums drop out of the mix leaving the guitars to do the work, then subtly sneak back into the track in a manner that might lead to your pausing/reviewing the entire twelve tracks of Promise just to spot the production tricks – and these are audible – but what’s really making the Maybes? make their noise?

Coming from Liverpool, The Maybes? are able to draw on a style of classic Merseypop that has already brought us bands such as The Icicle Works, Cast, The Coral – the hallmarks are immediately apparent to this listener. The nasal vocal drawl, the moonlit backstreet romanticism, the chord changes lifted straight from the Arthur Lee book of folkrock balladry – The Maybes? refuse to stint in any of these departments. But do we get anything to really make Promise stand out from the herd? That moment properly arrives with fifth track “The Come Around” whose staccato riffs and soaring chorus really are the stuff that truly great guitar pop is made of; “I want you around tonight” sings Nick Ellis as chiming guitars appear and disappear abruptly, and this is only one highlight on an album which also offers the bluesy glam stomp of “Modern Love”, the mesmeric folk strum of “Healing Hands” and the stunning intricacies of the albums title track, an eight minute instrumental which reconfigures the entire notion of what passes for club music, asking as it does “what if there weren’t any synthesizers and if there weren’t, what would (for instance) Moby sound like?” The Maybes? both manage to answer their own question and manage to sound as if they’re cleverly second guessing their audience while they’re doing it.

The Maybes? are inventive and genuinely experimental musicians, and Promise delivers more than expected.