Review: Maff – Maff EP

by Jake Kussmaul

Maff’s debut EP is instantly relatable in every right. It is the quintessential soundtrack for the manic and spontaneous journey associated with infatuation. There’s a certain charm in the way the lyrical scope progresses with each track, from simple and tongue-and-cheek to conscious and eloquent. It’s smart, concise, and never seems to border on pretension. The crisply raw instrumentation complements the lyrics with the same degree of sincerity, making the EP worthy of continuous play. With a physical release slated for July, Maff will indeed frequent the car stereo this summer!

Despite being released last February, the self-titled EP of Santiago, Chile’s Maff just breathes summer. Its brisk textures of indie rock, grunge and post-punk construct a milieu of saturated sunshine and fluctuating tides. The lyrics tell an intriguing and surprisingly down-to-earth story of a summer romance. If the aforementioned description speaks to you in any way, I guarantee you’ll enjoy what Maff has to offer.

The first track, “Act 1,” is an instrumental in a class of its own. It is more serious sounding in comparison with the rest of the EP, and doesn’t hold back. The verse’s structure of breathing guitars with graceful drums is contrasted by a more direct and vertical sounding chorus, reminiscent of Submarine-era Whipping Boy. The reverberated drips and squeals in the latter half of the song have a very aquatic feel. “Linger Around” features vocals that are droning and passive, but endearing nonetheless. The track particularly focuses on limerent behavior —the involuntary, compulsive attraction toward others when inhibition is pushed aside. I like how the vocals are enhanced by the fuzz of the guitar during the verses. The chorus, “Please wake me tenderly,” implies that the singer longs to be “rescued” by his special someone, in order to feed his delusional mindset. Its octave-based harmonization, when combined with the various effects, similarly reminds me of a ghost itching to return to society. I feel a strong empathy for him, having been a victim of limerence myself.

The next two tracks continue this scenario, from the triumph of having life restored (“Walking on Fire”) to reaching the pinnacle of bliss (“Million Year Picnic”). However, on the fifth track, “Someday,” the mood becomes somber and the two actually develop feelings from their being apart. The boy/girl vocals are especially fitting in this song, and the lines “I’ll wait until the day you arrive/where are you now?” really hit home. Although the main melody is simple and clean, the rest of the instrumentation is chunkier and more involved, somehow expressing a protracted anxiety.  The following track, “You,” is my favorite of all the tracks, with a very hooky structure. The singer questions his ability to keep his flame within distance, but is still determined to find her. In “Planet Wave,” his anticipation soars to a new level of intensity when he is finally able to see her again. Another surprising turn occurs in the final track, “Blue Seas,” where the two realize that they were merely chasing their ideas of love, and agree that they must move on. The vocals are noticeably brighter and more aware, suggesting that the singer has finally put his feelings in perspective.