When best-selling author Andy Greenwald named his emo encyclopedia Nothing Feels Good,
Davey von Bohlen and Dan Didier of the Promise Ring became poster
children of the emo-rock movement. As the book hit shelves, the Ring’s
dismemberment led to von Bohlen and Didier teaming
up with former Dismemberment Plan bassist Eric Axelson to form
Maritime, a lively continuation of punk-rock icons for an adolescent
and emotional fan base. After their acclaimed 2004 release, Glass Floor, the members of Maritime pull off the uncommon stunt of putting together a solid sophomore effort with We, the Vehicles, but in doing so they make little progress from their previous records.
Bohlen reaches back to angst-ridden punk rock to deliver a steady
supply of sing-alongs, vocal inflections and trendy guitar riffs on We, The Vehicles.
Bouncy pop sounds permeate every song, and opener “Calm” and “Parade of
Punk-Rock T-Shirts” firmly establish the album as a recording of what
Maritime does best: bridge the gap between punk and angst-ridden
But nearly a decade after the Promise Ring’s heyday (1997’s Nothing Feels Good),
Maritime needs a new motive. “Tearing Up the Oxygen” might provide an
explanation for the album’s redundant nature with the title speaking
for itself. No doubt, the track is capable of gripping the angst-ridden
listener yearning for a sing-along, but it comes at the cost of a
laughable oohs and aahs.
Alumni,” which figures to be the album’s hit, suffers from ambivalent
lyrics such as “young alumni, modern cocktail drinkers/ your strappy
shoes don’t match the Thursday drunks.” Emo has always been for a
supposedly immature audience, and Davey von Bohlen’s fans will likely
be glad to see him continue to champion their cause. As for those who
expect more substance, they will just have to wait and see what comes
from the “Young Alumni.”
We, the Vehicles
is ultimately too redundant to graduate Maritime into a more mature
audience, something that will eventually be expected from the band. If
there is one promising thing on the album’s spine, it’s the words
“Flameshovel Records.” With Maritime’s signing, the Chicago-based label
secured itself a talented act to continue improving an
already-impressive lineup. Perhaps Flameshovel is the necessary
anecdote for Maritime’s eventual progression.
For now, though, We, The Vehicles is a temporary fix for Maritime and von Bohlen fans — and a good one, at that.
Maritime Web site (streaming audio)