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Mae
Singularity
Capitol Records
www.whatismae.com


Mae is the kind of band that can both woo the hearts of sensitive listeners with their love-aching lyrics while also satisfying the hunger of the alternative rocker. Guitars soar throughout each of their full-length albums as well as pitch-on vocals and an unrelenting amount of precise emotion. Now what does "precise emotion" mean? Basically, the band is able to skirt the line between too soft and too hard and comfortably exist in the medium between.

With Singularity, the band doesn't try to reinvent themselves. It isn't necessarily a step into unpredictability and yes, it does sound quite reminiscent of the band's other albums. In most cases, this kind of criticism would be detrimental to an album. However, with Singularity, Mae produce some of the finest tracks of their history, and regardless of whether or not their sound has evolved at all, this album is definitely the highlight of their musical career.

Their place in modern rock is a dangerous one. They risk being labeled as too whiny, or dare I say, "emo". The lyrics on "Release Me" and the addictive "Crazy 8s" put them at the frontline of emotional lyricism. The binary, though, would seem to threaten the fragile hearts of the acoustic love-song lovers with drumbeats and ricocheting guitars that could tear right through the protective foam of an unsuspecting listener's headphones. "Sometimes I Can't Make It On My Own" rattles and rolls more than any of their former tracks ever have. And you would think that the extremes of the soft rock vs. hard rock battle that are featured on this record would alienate listeners, but they don't. And that is the magic of Mae. Combining the instrumentals of the modern rock world with well-written lyrics leaves Mae falling into a rare category that most artists don't fit into: they're just a plain great band.

But enough boasting about the majesty of the musical saviors, Mae. Back to their album. Singularity will give, like mentioned before, the same well-constructed set of songs that rock while still remaining thought-provoking. If anything is different, it seems that Mae, this time around, is ready to break into the mainstream. Always staying surprisingly under the radar of popular radio or MTV (whether that be intentional or not), their fame came largely from the supportive press of alternative music magazines, continuous touring and the musical melting pot that is MySpace. But with songs as addictive and accessible as "On Top" and "Rocket", it seems that they are ready to take the leap into widespread popularity.

If they catch, only the best wishes come from this humble critic. If they don't, then something must seriously be wrong with the direction of popular music and the perception of what talent is. Regardless of how many copies it sells though, any fans of alternative rock (or whatever "emo" is considered nowadays) will lap up Singularity with such ferocity that no other recent release will come close to taking its place in the CD player.

-Josh Page


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