Perhapst - "Revise Your Maps"

Perhapst – “Revise Your Maps”

I was always a big fan of The Decemberists, so I was pumped to find the most recent Perhapst album Revise Your Maps in my inbox. It features songs written and performed by John Moen, drummer/guitarist from The Decemberists. I tried to shake loose all the bias I was carrying going into this album; I wanted it to be fresh, because if I went in expecting The Decemberists and got something else, it might mess me up. I’m glad I did, because Perhapst is definitively not The Decemberists. But is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

I fall pretty firmly into the “good thing” category. Instead of the sort of weird, theatrical sound I was trying not to expect, I found a really solid indie-folk album. The first track, “Birds Off a Wire,” is one of the best chill songs I’ve heard in a long time. If my life was a movie, that song would play as I sat on the porch with a beer, watching the rain fall. It did such a good job of giving me that feeling I felt some serious cognitive dissonance when I looked outside to find the sun shining. The feather in its cap is that it manages to do all that without becoming melancholy. It’s not a bummer of a song, and that’s worth a lot in this genre.

Brief aside: as I write, it has started raining. I’m not saying that Perhapst can actually influence the weather, but I’m not saying they can’t.

Moen has a very light voice. It’s got an airy quality to it that works really well with the music in “Willamette Valley Ballad.” I’m a big fan of songs that roll along like they’re tumbling down a hill, and this song fits the bill. The percussion and guitar work together to give it a lot of momentum. After another chill song, I was hoping for something a little spicier to change things up, and “Revise Your Maps” delivered. “Ramble/Scramble” has a much more upbeat sound. It’s a real toe-tapper. Or heel-tapper, if you were in marching band like me.

I always put a lot of importance on the title track of an album; I might be alone in this, but naming the album after the track (or vice versa) seems to imply a strong belief that this song is the best one on the album. As a song, “Revise Your Maps” just doesn’t do anything for me. I wouldn’t complain if it came on, but this just isn’t the song to buy the album for. It’s not bad, but there are songs out there that sound the same and do a better job. “Sorrow and Shame,” however, hits a chord in me. It’s reminiscent to the classic Elton John rock-outs my dad used to play in the car. It’s got some great piano and a quick, fun tempo. Definitely in the running for “favorite track on the album.”

“True Sparrow” hearkens back to The Decemberists, but it takes a curving path that runs it close to Beatles territory. It has just a pinch of that sixties rock lack-of-edge, just enough to put the Beatles and similar groups in your mind without actually sounding much like them. “Find Me” is much harder to put a finger on. I can’t really come up with any songs that sound a lot like it that I also like. If I wanted to make a negative comparison, I probably could, but I genuinely like “Find Me.” I can’t get a handle on why I like it, but whatever it’s doing, it’s doing it well.

I won’t keep breaking the songs down, but not because there’s nothing to say. The whole album is worth listening to, and that’s not a claim I make very often. There are songs I like less than others, but I don’t think there’s a single bad track on the disc. The only caveat I feel like I should give: this is not an album for the easily bored. If you’re a big fan of the indie-folk genre, and you want thirteen tracks of that, then Perhapst has really delivered. If that’s not so much your cup of tea, Revise Your Maps might not be for you. As a special treat, to thank  you for reading this far, enjoy “Willamette Valley Ballad.”


Purchase Revise Your Maps by Perhapst on Google Play for $9.49 or at your local music shop today.

About The Author

I'm a graduate of Grand Valley State University with a degree in creative writing. I'm a typical writer, in that I don't do it for a living. But I love writing, I love music, I love comic books, and most of all I love geeking out about the stuff I like.

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