Urgency isn’t the first thing you might expect from a new Maritime record. After all, these four guys have settled into domestic bliss in Milwaukee, with kids and wives and day jobs that don’t involve decibels and dirty rock clubs. But Human Hearts couldn’t live up to its title more: It’s blustery with passion and brimming with emotion. (The full word, not the shortened version.)
Human Hearts is the fourth Maritime full-length—the same number of albums Davey von Bohlen and Dan Didier made with their seminal band The Promise Ring, which split in 2002. It’s hard to underestimate their old band’s influence on both its own era and subsequent years: They didn’t sell a jillion records, but TPR had a long, measurable impact on lots of kids who’d go on to form bands of their own.
But back to the also-glowing present: Human Hearts was recorded with some degree of leisure in Maritime’s hometown, and the comfortable nature of that situation shows in every layer, from the travelogue—a fave von Bohlen subject—of “Air Arizona” to the insistent shimmer of “Paraphernalia.”
But let’s get back to that urgency. To varying degrees, every song on Human Hearts sounds like it wants to prove something: “Do we fight, fight, fight, fight on?” asks “It’s Casual,” and the answer is clearly yes. You can hear it in the gleaming pop-punk gem “Annihilation Eyes,” the climbing “C’mon Sense,” and especially “Faint of Hearts,” which filters classic-rock through Maritime’s pop sensibility, adding a snarl for powerful punctuation at the end.
It also feels comfortable: with itself and its station. Maybe it’s because this lineup has been together so long now, or perhaps because it’s the start of a new beginning with Dangerbird Records, the label run by former Promise Ring manager Jeff Castelaz and home to Silversun Pickups and the Dears. It’s a strange brew, that’s for sure—blanket-warm ease and tremendous desire. But it’s a snug fit, and a joy to hear.
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