MAYBESHEWILL – Not For Want of Trying (2008)

maybeshewill - not for want of trying With only one EP under their belt (2006’s Japanese Spy Transcript), maybeshewill have proven that they’ve got a knack for writing deft, intriguing instrumental music. It’s easy to lump the band into post-rock category, but unlike Explosions In The Sky or Russian Circles, maybeshewill’s music is primarily riff-driven, having more in common with metal than with post-rock (the band’s closest relative in the latter genre would be fellow Brits 65daysofstatic – both bands have an affinity for mixing electronics into their sound, as well as for writing their monikers without spaces). Not For Want of Trying is the band’s first full-length album, and while it’s not as taut as the Japanese Spy Transcript, it still exhibits some stirring moments of beauty.

Most of these moments occur near the close of the album, which is by far the strongest part of it. The final three songs in particular – He Films The Clouds Part 2, the title track, Not For Want of Trying and album closer Takosubo – form a dynamic triad of simplistic, raw and passionate energy. He Films The Clouds Part 2 (Part 1 was on Spy Transcript) takes a simple piano line and methodically piles on the ecstasies until it all gives way to the song’s lone lyric: “now we’re apart, though not through choice/do we stay mute, or raise or voice?” The lyric repeats again, this time by a choir (lifted up by the piano, which gleefully jumps octaves, as if everything depended upon it actually reaching the clouds). The simplicity of it all belies the beauty of it, and as the song winds down, the feeling of peace – of serenity – is strong. maybeshewill cleverly opt to shatter this feeling with Not For Want of Trying, a hurricane of a song whose anchor is in a sample from the Network, Sidney Lumet’s 1976 satirical masterpiece of the television era.

The speech is Howard Beale’s famous “Mad As Hell” diatribe; it’s arguably the most perfect monologue in all of cinema, and there’s absolutely nothing peaceful about. maybeshewill allow it to speak for itself, slightly changing their tone, mirroring every time Beale does, and when he asks for everyone to get mad, the band respond explosively. Considering how harrowing Not For Want of Trying is, it seems fitting that Takosubo acts as sort of a denouement for the whole album. So while the song consists of little more than sparse piano, the band are hardly going out with a whimper. Takosubo is merely the ash and smoke from the fires of the title track – and there’s nothing to indicate that that fire has gone out. It’s just a shame the band took as long as they did to get it started.

The beginning of the album is nowhere near as strong as the end; the songs all seem to blend together. Opener Ixnay On The Autoplay is almost like an electronically muddled twin of Takosubo; both songs share a similar (but inverse) purpose. Whereas Takosubo bleeds out of Not For Want of Trying, Ixnay On The Autoplay bleeds into Seraphim and Cherubim, a riff-driven song with a catchy piano hook. This song is followed by The Paris Hilton Sex Tape (a re-recorded version from the band’s EP). The song is…well, riff-driven, with a catchy piano hook. So is I’m In Awe, Amadeus!. The songs are so similar, in the riffs they use, and the piano lines that weave through them (which all have a minimalist, Phillip Glass feel to them), that hearing them all back-to-back is tiresome (even though each individual song has merit on its own). Ultimately, the songs lack identity, and I wish that maybeshewill would’ve injected these songs with more intent, as they did on the latter tracks of the album.

When the band step out of their mold and attempt something different, the results are somewhat sketchy. Heartflusters, the only song on the album with proper lyrics, feels out of place, especially when when crammed right into the center of the album. The dual male/female vocals in the track reminded me of From Autumn To Ashes, for whatever reason; they’re not bad, but the music here is the biggest issue – it’s too rigid and indifferent, and when compared to the other tracks on the album, it’s also completely lacking in impact.

Not For Want of Trying shows us, again, that the band have a promising future ahead of them; they just need to hone their songwriting skills a bit. Listening to the final three songs of the album, without interruption, is an absolutely joyous experience; it makes you wish that they band had
composed the songs to flow together more, as opposed to having them move around in circles as much as they did. Still, if you’re into emotive instrumental music, post-hardcore or post-rock, the album is definitely worth checking out. And try not to dwell on the flaws too much. The band have proven that they’ve got the potential for better albums, albums that are still unrealized by them. I’m confident that we’ll hear them someday. And next time, maybewewill.

HD RATING: 7/10

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One Response to “MAYBESHEWILL – Not For Want of Trying (2008)”

  1. […] – Sing The Word Hope In Four Part Harmony (2009) I ended my last maybeshewill review by remarking that, while procession of the final three songs was godlike, it didn’t feel like […]

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