Maita – Best Wishes (Kill Rock Stars)
Portland-based Maita’s debut album is a strong collection of bittersweet songs that has more than a whiff of Portlandia about it.
Obviously Portland is much more than bearded clowns riding round on unicycles banging on about craft beer, but Maita’s debut album has more than a hint of Oregon hipster sensibility about it.
A Beast sets the tone as main songwriter and vocalist Maria Maita-Keppeler ruminates about the harm you can cause another person over Matthew Zeltzer’s tasteful and dynamic guitar licks. Someone Lost Their Goddam Wallet is an aural trip through the ups and down of a college party as Maita-Keppeler muses that death will eventually come to the oblivious hip young things in the room. That opening salvo suggest Maita are a bit po-faced, but not so as on the ironic I’m Afraid of Everything they poke gentle fun at millennial insecurities.
This is pretty much Maita-Keppeler’s project, who claims Bright Eyes and Feist as influences, with the former’s attention to structure and literate pop sensibility more in evidence in songs like Can’t Blame a Kid where she knows she needs to let go of childhood traumas.
It’s not all indie pop as the delicate Broken Down Boys features some stellar work from Zeltzer on a journey through lost love, and Maita-Keppeler turns the tables in Boy, looking at failed romance through the eyes of a boy. Perfect sees Maita-Keppeler recalling her first lonely visit to San Francisco battling all sorts of negative emotions. Best Wishes closes the album as the album’s co-producer says goodbye to that city where she saw the relentless gentrification sparked by the dot com boom which is now plaguing her new base.
It’s a shame that Portlandia is no longer on our screens as many of these songs would have been perfect on that show’s soundtrack but Maita’s smart, lyrically honest tunes may yet find a home in Aidy Bryant’s bittersweet Portland-based sitcom, Shrill.
Review by Paul Clarke, you can see his author profile here.