Any band that releases something on Velvet Blue Music will probably have to bear some comparison to Starflyer 59, however small it might be. And what’s funny is that Starflyer 59 isn’t even on Velvet Blue Music. But it’s a safe bet to say that Starflyer 59 is the most immediate touchstone when it comes to describing the overall “sound” of Velvet Blue Music — mellow, dreamy pop with breathy vocals and more than just of hint of melancholy. Of course, it helps when the owner of Velvet Blue Music is also Starflyer’s bassist.
But in Map’s case, the comparison might be even harder to avoid. Not only was Teaching Turtles to Fly released on Velvet Blue Music, but it was also produced by Jason Martin, Mr. Starflyer himself. And to make it even more difficult, two of Map’s members even play in Starflyer. Talk about a triple whammy!
But here’s the funny part. Not only does Map’s music stand on its own, but it also manages to beat Starflyer at its own game. Oh sure, both bands excel in moody pop that’s best enjoyed while alone in your bedroom, pining after some girl. But Map’s music is far more intricate and lush, even when compared to Starflyer’s more recent pop-focused outings. The outro on “The Smile Summer Forgot” always kills me, with guitar melodies weaving in and out of each other over a thick bed of synths. “You’re Not the Girl” supplements it’s dreampop textures with a hazy set of vibes that could’ve been lifted from Tortoise.
Lyrically, though, they fall right in line with Martin’s oeuvre. Yep, we get 5 songs about chicks and love. Map’s music is a perfect example of pretty generic, even insipid lyrics — “When you wanna go can I give you a hand?/I love you more than you could ever understand” (“The World Wants to See You Nude”) — made listenable by gorgeous sounds. Let’s face it, Map isn’t about grandiose ideas and profound revelations. They’re all about atmosphere that you can mope around to, and Teaching Turtles to Fly has plenty of it. But if you’re familiar with Velvet Blue Music, that isn’t much of a surprise. What is surprising, however, is just how good they are at it.
This review originally appeared in the Phantom Tollbooth.