Maia’s second album Pepper Stars is a weird and wonderful mix of just about everything possible – from the delicate folk-pop style of Dear Io to the ethereal bleeps and whirrs which underpin the album’s opening track, Alien. The songs chop and change style more frequently than most artists do in their entire career – and yet, oddly, this is what gives the album its own particular charm and appeal. Pepper Stars is a complete departure from Maia’s debut album, which showcased a much lighter sound throughout. However, their latest offering still has hints of the delicate sound from their earlier album and continues to showcase their stunning vocal harmonies, especially in the lead single The Grandfather Plan.
The band’s description of their sound (“all sorts of disco sci-fi folk pop”) is probably as accurate a description as you can get – their music certainly doesn’t restrict itself to one genre, but seems to draw influence from just about everywhere. I would struggle to pick out a favourite track from the album as the sheer variety makes it near impossible to choose, however it is Dear Io and Towards The Onion which stand out the most to me.
Despite the variation between the styles of the tracks on the album, there are some very subtle, and extremely clever links that hold the album together and prevent it from becoming a hotchpotch of ideas. It’s definitely not easy listening, but their unusual sound draws you in and intrigues you through from the first track until the very last notes fade out.
If you like your albums easily defined with simple song structures and catchy choruses, this one probably isn’t for you. However, if you prefer your music to have a bit of a quirky edge then this is definitely an album to add to your collection. Besides, the songs are catchy, in their own strange way…