In the United States, the term "twee", has been adopted retrospectively to describe some examples of indie pop. I'm not trying to be derogatory towards Maia, but twee just seems the perfect term to sum up their latest (second) release 'Pepper Stars'. It is a fourteen track bundle of quirkiness.
A gambler might put this album on shuffle, and if you're a lucky kind of gambler you might land on Track Three, 'Alight Adventure,' first. Lucky, because it's the best track on the album and the kind of track that would make you want to keep listening. '"You are the adventure that keeps me alive" it crows, and yes, listening in order then this track might give you the confidence to persevere with the remaining eleven tracks. The quirky second track that is 'Zuma Aluma' is also quite good. But at this point it's still only fifty-fifty because these two tracks are sandwiched between two other drab, limp non-entities of songs. Luckily, with another ten songs to go, you have plenty of time to forget the worst two.
The promo that accompanies the release likens Maia to 'The Fleet Foxes' and 'The Incredible String Band' - very fleetingly there are echoes of the Foxes; track nine, 'Sundown' is like them in title if not in sound. It's a haunting track both in melody and in words "And I believed her when she walked into the night / Followed by the dark, she rides." But I am left wondering if I'm the only one who hears Oasis' 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' in the piano backing?
If anyone can explain what "disco sci-fi folk pop" is - then feel free to write in. That is the description that Maia give themselves on their website (http://maiatheband.com/) Whether the description drives the album or vice versa I'm not sure but the science references are everywhere; from the song titles 'More Strangely Than The Moon', 'Alien', 'For Angels' and even the lyrics "I heard about your position in the coldest reaches of space."
The album rounds off with the bizarrely titled 'Towards The Onion,' which again is little over four minutes. It's another effeminate offering and then it ends, just like that; it is far from a satisfactory conclusion to an album.
LSD Magazine provided the kindest summation of Maia that I've seen: "The four create gentle melodies and moderate the pace with timeless acoustic instruments" There are some good offerings in here but they are trapped in between several songs that should never have left the studio. It's promising though, and with a bit more refinement this band could make a real impact.
The only other caveat I would add is that after their initial release the Fleet Foxes were everywhere - Glastonbury, Jools Holland et al - but where are they now? Maia need to avoid that trap.