The Mae Shi’s 2004 debut for 5 Rue Christine, the stunningly broad Terrorbird, dashed through thirty-three songs in forty-three minutes and packed in elements of noise and post-punk alongside dancy breakdowns and subtler indie nuances. The record went over a lot of peoples’ heads and was perhaps criticized a little more than it deserved. On the Heartbeeps EP, the group toned down the impetuousness of Terrorbird and actually wrote some songs. And it marks a vast improvement.
Based in Los Angeles, the Mae Shi is a quirky bunch. The members — Ezra Buchla, Brad Breeck, and Tim and Jeff Byron — pride themselves in recording their own material (and they are learning as they go), but they also like to make their own instruments. Their live show, which is unpredictable but always loud and fun, never goes longer than fifteen minutes.
Regardless of their erratic behavior, the members can’t help that they’re maturing. Compared to their older material, the songs on Heartbeeps are noticeably structured — many of them even pass the two-minute mark. Where Terrorbird explored a large number of genres in a miniscule timeframe, Heartbeeps is subtler in its approach. The result is a much more coherent record that pushes its listener without going over the top.
From the catchy synthesizers on “Spoils of Victory” to the arena-rock outro to “Crimes of Infancy,” the Mae Shi proves it has already outgrown the “noise-rock” tag it was so quickly saddled with. With its cleaner production and more coherent structure, Heartbeeps shows the group in a solid niche, not unlike Thunderbirds Are Now!’s newer material.