A Thousand Heys is the debut album from London based indie band Mazes, who have here produced a set of upbeat, guitar heavy tracks that focus on the path of life, from youth through to post-adolescent. Surprisingly, all of Mazes still have “day-jobs”, though considering the critical praise the band have accumulated, from the NME in particular, they will probably become fully-fledged professional musicians before long.
Mazes immerged from the burgeoning culture of D.I.Y. marketing and production within the U.K. indie scene, which utilises everything from grassroots campaigns via the internet to lo-fi recording techniques. With A Thousand Heys, however, Mazes have spent time creating quite a long and considered debut. The production is a little rough around the edges, but the distortion on the guitars and vocals doesn’t really warrant the band’s self proclaimed lo-fi alternative title. The music Mazes create, in reality, is upbeat indie-pop; indie-pop that is so crammed full of influences of that nature that it really cannot be considered to be anything more elaborate or exciting.
A number of Mazes’ influences have been drawn from the 1990s, notably James, Elastica and Oasis, as well as contemporary indie-pop acts such as The Courteeners and The View. These contemporary influences however, all connect with a key hub of bands that originate from the glory days of British pop/rock – The Kinks, The Who, and most obviously The Beatles. Throughout their debut, Mazes reference The Beatles incessantly, from the construction of their tracks, to their guitar styles, (which range from poppy, early Beatles to the depths of I Want You (She’s so Heavy)). They even reference The Beatles in their lyrics. A lot. For me this is an obvious, tired and staid technique that has no subtly to it. All “rock” music is to a degree influenced by The Beatles, but there is no need to wear this admiration like a badge of honour.
Don’t get me wrong – A Thousand Heys is a fine album. Many of the tracks are nicely upbeat, enjoyable and positive, which is not something to disparage. The album is tight, well produced, and has a comprehensive feel and sound that clearly works well for the group. There are flashes of brilliance at times, and tracks such as Boxing Clever and Go Betweens have catchy riffs and melodies, and have something about them that is a bit cooler, smarter and more interesting. If the group could move forward from their debut with these meatier tracks, and with less blatant influences, they could produce a really fantastic second album.