Posts Tagged ‘Maybeshewill’

19th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

For a time, Maybeshewill were one of the definitive acts during the golden age of post-rock – and here in 2021 it’s possible to reflect and appreciate that the mid-noughties really was a peak time for the genre. Certainly in the circles I moved, every gig was wall-to-wall post rock, or otherwise there was at least one instrumental act on the bull, brimming with chiming guitars and epic crescendos. They were good times, too, and however quickly it moved from fresh to formulaic, there was a sense of excitement about this music you could lose yourself in. It felt like a moment in time, it felt like a movement, and it was exciting, particularly in Leeds and particularly around The Brudenell, which felt like something of an epicentre with its growing profile. But then again, smaller venues like The Packhorse were also showcasing so many emerging acts all doing that Explosions in the Sky thing.

During this time, Maybeshewill were one of the bands that stood out: while exploiting the template, they also expanded it with the use of strings and samples – plus, they were simply bloody good. And they still are. The title is, perhaps, an allusion to the fact that having called it a day, spent, back in 2016 they have decided to return to both the live forum and recorded a new album.

This recent reanimation was unexpected, but perhaps the last thing we expected to open Maybeshewill’s long-awaited comeback album is a thumping sequenced drum and squelching synth bubble. But then it yields to a rippling piano and a wash of surging, soaring strings and immediately we’re transported to a space of expansive, emotionally-charged instrumental post rock. The three and a half minutes of ‘We’ve Arrived at the Burning Building’ is perfect Maybeshewill – dramatic, expansive, dynamic.

Lead single ‘Zarah’ is up next, with samples lifted from the premier speech from MP Zarah Sultana at its core. It first perfectly into the early arc of the album, and it’s a great track, and anyone who says music and politics shouldn’t mix is wrong. Musicians have a platform that is theirs to use as they see fit, and to see Maybeshewill using their platform in this way is encouraging.

The strings really dominate the arrangements on this album, but there’s a lot of texture and a lot of detail, and propulsive drumming shapes the structures of the songs. ‘Complicity’ is exemplary, as it transitions from a driving swell to a loping, contemplative mid-section that slows the pace before exploding into a fill battery of strings, a barrage of live and electronic percussion, looping piano and driving guitars. Yes, it takes you back at least, if you were there at the time – but it also feels perfectly contemporary and forward-facing.

‘Invincible Summer’ alludes to both Krautrock and 80s AOR with its motoric beat and looping synths and clean guitar that nags away crisply, while ‘The Weight of Light’ is one of those tunes that simply makes you sag with sadness. It possesses an aching beauty, and the surging crescendo is simultaneously uplifting and utterly crushing. There’s a lot going on: ‘Refuturing’ takes a twist into mellow jazz territory, while ‘Green Unpleasant land’ makes a further political statement without words, a gnarly tempest of guitar-driven disquiet.

If the chiming, rolling, mellow ripplings that build to a thunderous storm on the seven-minute-forty-five ‘Even Tide’ is classic post—rock to the point of cliché and bordering on historical with its use of soaring guitars and sustained crescendos, then the brass is very much a departure, and it paves the way for the final salvoes of the seven-minute ‘The Last Hours’ that spirals and soars into the truly epic territories, and the rolling, piano-led ‘Tomorrow’, that sweeps in a wave of optimism.

Together these two tacks draw the album to an exhilarating yet measured close. It’s everything that’s defined the band over the course of their career, making this a most welcome return and an outstanding addition to their catalogue.



Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a while. Back in the mid/late-noughties, Maybeshewill (formed in 2006) carved their own furrow in the world of post-rock, balancing delicate ethereal explorations with some bruising riffs, and, every now and again, in the absence of vocals, incorporating samples int the mix.

They adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder certainly seems to have some currency when it comes to their comeback, seven years after their called time and bade their fans farewell.

‘Zarah’, the first cut from forthcoming album, the appropriately-titled No Feeling is Final, has already found a fan and champion in Labour MP for Coventry South, Zarah Sultana. There’s a reason for this, as Guitarist Robin Southby explains:

“The track is built around an extract of a speech by Zarah Sultana. Zarah’s words encapsulate the anger and frustration felt by younger generations, being denied a say in their own future by an older global elite who are staunchly opposed to taking action on the climate crisis in the name of wealth accumulation and upholding existing power structures. The speech decries the billionaire-led multinational corporations and nepotic career politicians who are desperately clinging on to the status quo of late-stage capitalism in the face of a world that is literally burning down around them.”

It’s easy to dismiss instrumental post-rock acts as pedalling mere atmosphere and wistfulness, but politics can be found beneath the surface of the works of so many artists: Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s music does little to reveal the band’s leftist / anarcho leanings, although there are clues in the titles and artwork and so on. But here, Maybeshewill render their position quite explicit, and it’s a strong thing to do.

It’s also a strong release: on the one hand, it’s classic Maybeshewill, a continuation of form that sees them marry unsettling undercurrents and a moody tension with incredible gracefulness, and, of course, epic building crescendos.

‘Zarah’ isn’t so much a crescendo-orientated composition, but is rich in texture, and packs all the elements of an epic into a succinct 3:45. Maybeshewill aren’t only back, but they’re better than ever.


thumbnail_Maybeshewill - please credit Fraser West

Since 2006 Maybeshewill have released four full-length albums of towering, cinematic instrumental music. After a decade long career that saw them tour across four continents they bowed out in 2016 with a sold out show at London’s Koko. Having reformed briefly in 2018 at the request of The Cure’s Robert Smith for a show at Meltdown Festival, 2021 sees the band return with their first new material since 2014’s Fair Youth. Having worked on ideas separately in the intervening years, it was the sketches of music that would become ‘No Feeling is Final’ that pulled the band back together. Building on the songs that they felt needed to be heard, together.

‘No Feeling is Final’ was born from a place of weary exasperation. From the knowledge that we’re living in a world hurtling towards self-destruction. We watch as forests burn and seas rise. As the worst tendencies of humanity are championed by those in power; rage, fear, greed and apathy. We see every injustice, every conflict, every catastrophe flash up on our screens. We stay complacent and consume to forget our complicity in the structures and systems that sustain that behaviour. As the world teeters on the edge of disaster, we sigh and keep scrolling, the uneasy feeling in our stomachs eating away at us a little more each day.

However easy it would be to switch off and pretend all is lost, there’s no choice but to remain engaged. To set that feeling of hopelessness aside and use the fear and frustration as fuel to make something positive.

‘No Feeling is Final’ is a message of hope and solidarity. It’s a story of growing grassroots movements across the world that are rejecting the doomed futures being sold to us, and imagining new realities based on equality and sustainability. It’s a reckoning with the demons in our histories and a promise to right the wrongs of the past. It’s a plea to take action in shaping the world we leave for future generations. It’s a simple gesture of reassurance to anyone else struggling in these troubled times: “Just keep going. No feeling is final.”

Guitarist Robin Southby comments on the new video for first single ‘Refuturing’, directed by Fraser West,

“Conceptually, Refuturing (and the album as a whole) is concerned with the existential dread surrounding the climate crisis, how we understand our complicity in the crisis within the confines of our current morality system and ‘refuturing’ – rejecting existing power structures used to subjugate, and reimagining a future built on entirely new systems that are sustainable and beneficial to all.”

Watch the video now:

Maybeshewill will also perform their first London headline show since 2016 at Islington Assembly Hall on 15th December 2021. Tickets are on sale now.