We had just moved house and it had taken the best part of two weeks to get the internet up and running again. After an hour or so spent attempting to convince myself that it was actually possible to somehow catch up on fourteen days worth of missed internet access, I finally gave up and pootled over to the Norman Records website. This particular online record shop had slowly been winning me over, having first visited when hunting for an out of print Magnolia Electric Co release. Packed with quirky reviews, curious items and a tremendous supply of vinyl, the Norm site has become increasingly important to me in recent years as a result of all of my local independent stores dying. It is where a sizeable chunk of my new music is now purchased from now – although that may change with the abolition of the invaluable reserve option – but back in April 2007 I was just starting to get the bug.
As I sat there, browsing new music in the hope of taking my mind off the still unfiled stuff everywhere around me, I noticed that Norm were banging on about a new album that they’d been given some upfront copies of that they thought was pretty bloody good. It didn’t take much longer for the hyperbole to kick in and next thing I knew I was putting together a small order on their site. That Saturday, ‘We Can Create’ by Maps turned up and I now can’t imagine what my record collection was like before that crucial day. (Ok, that’s yet more hyperbole – without that album, and its subsequent impact, there’d be a few less CDs in the racks and a small gap along the vinyl shelves)
I became more than a little obsessed with this record. The CD was played over and over, for weeks on end. When the novelty of that wore off, I purchased the double 10” vinyl edition and proceeded to do much that same with that. I even found myself, some months later, winning an auction on eBay for an unmastered, slightly different version of the album just to hear those minor differences and pore over what might have been. ‘We Can Create’ was the first album I’d been truly geeky over in the best part of ten years, but I loved every second. I’ve talked, at great length, about the music on this album in the past so I’m hoping the irrepressible enthusiasm is enough to get you to listen if you haven’t previously done so. But, having just said that, I should conclude by saying a few things about this remarkable, beautiful and hugely unassuming record.
The almost whispery washes of vocal sound throughout this album make it perfect for late night journeys or contemplative hours sat by a rain-soaked window but the euphoric synths and expertly manipulated electronic patterns can soundtrack those lost hours equally effectively. It’s been called a 21st century answer to shoegaze and compared to aspects of Spiritualized’s classic, ‘Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space’, but I genuinely haven’t heard another album like it. It’s infectious, it’s charming and it’s great from start to finish. If you have somehow ignored my recommendations up to this point, either do something about it now or find somewhere else to receive your mildly interesting musical commentary.