Everyone has those albums in their collection that they hurriedly shove under the bed when company comes around. For me, The Promise Ring has always been included in the aforementioned grouping, and has resulted in more than a few sessions of unrestrained mockery at many a social gathering. I always stuck up for the band for years; that is until Davey von Bohlen and Dan Didier joined Eric Axelson, the bassist of the now defunct Dismemberment Plan, and formed Maritime. Their 2004 debut, Glass Floor, was more than I could take. Its overly bright and hollow sound filled me with shame, and I shoved those records under the bed and that’s where I thought they’d stay; at least until I heard Davey’s newest submission.
To my complete and utter surprise, Maritime’s new album, We, The Vehicles, has been soaked in layer upon dense layer of pure pop-craftsmanship. I kid you not, this is by far the best thing Davey von Bohlen has done since the Promise Ring’s emo-boy classic Nothing Feels Good. Unlike Maritime’s last stale and monotonous offering, everything here sounds rejuvenated and full of promise. Throughout the album, stand-out tracks like “Parade of Punk Rock T-shirts” and “No One Will Remember” (which actually sounds like a stripped-down Mice Parade B-side) have the power of invoking grins, chills and unconscious foot tapping. The album is overflowing with an appealing variety of song ideas and instrumentation that holds your attention throughout. Like the overly optimistic voice shouts at the start of We, The Vehicles, “It’s OK and everything is going to be fine!” I can pull those old Promise Ring records back out from under the bed now.