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In a musical landscape pitted with pop stars and pigeonholes, Maps & Atlases defy easy categorization, choosing to walk their own incomparable path. Beware and Be Grateful builds upon the Chicago-based band's acclaimed Barsuk Records debut, Perch Patchwork, melding their trademark experimentalism with a more direct – though no less beguiling – songcraft. The new album abounds with invention, spanning hymnal harmonies, percolating rhythms, even, in the case of centerpiece track "Silver Self," a full-on guitar solo. Songs like "Remote and Dark Years" and "Winter" are gloriously liquid and lyrical, channeling M&A's maximalist creativity into a truly inviting brand of boundary-busting, asymmetrical pop.
"Beyond the obvious -- the once dumbfoundingly technical group easing into a more relaxed, mature version of originality -- is the audible sense of Maps & Atlases seeking out their true identity as a band, sonic explorations drawing them closer to the heart. Think of a group like Thrice, who sound markedly more like their raw selves on their last few ambient rock records than they did as just another post-hardcore act in the early aughts. Or the Beatles, who began with almost rote Chuck Berry facsimiles and and wound up with 'I Am the Walrus.'" --Billboard