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They've only been together for about five years, but there's no question in my mind that Mazes are one of British alternative's great hidden gems; blending lo-fi sensibilities with irresistibly poppy hooks and rough-around-the-edges guitar work, their already-long list of impressive support slots demonstrates that plenty of their contemporaries have picked up on their endearingly energetic sound - quite why the same can't be said for the wider consumer base that their music certainly ticks all of the appropriate boxes for, then, is a mystery indeed.

After their debut full-length, A Thousand Heys, did a neat job of translating the visceral energy of their live shows to record, and introducing the band to the wider world in the process, follow-up Ores & Minerals displayed clear progression in terms of the quality of the songwriting; suddenly, they weren't just sounding like Sebadoh and Guided by Voices on a superficial level, but channeling the sheer intelligence of their approach to quickfire pop-punk, too - that album was heavy on cleverly-arranged pop songs that throw up far more subtleties than you might initially give them credit for. On their most recent release, last year's Better Ghosts EP, they continued to offer up intelligent ideas, but the diffuse sound of that effort - it very much sounded like a bunch of songs just thrown together, with little regard for pacing or cohesion - was a little disappointing.

In that regard, then, Wooden Aquarium makes some serious amends; it was recorded entirely live, but in actual fact, some of the transitions between tracks make it sound as if it was laid down start-to-finish, all in one take. The furious, freewheeling guitars of opener 'Astigmatism', for instance, positively melt into the Sonic Youth-esque 'Salford' via a sharp bassline, and on 'Vapour Trails', the unsettling climactic synths blend straight into the opening strains of 'Ripp', too. It's a smart way to play it, because Mazes rely so heavily on their irrepressible energy; you never feel as if Wooden Aquarium lets up, and whether that's something that the band have picked up from having to cram as many songs as possible into their quick-fire live sets or just a nod to their long-held influences, it works very well indeed.

There's hints, too, that the Mazes sound continues to develop apace; 'Letters Between U&V' and 'Stamford Hill' were just two of a host of tracks to put me in mind of the noodling, sprightly guitars that Parquet Courts have so keenly been interpolating recently, whilst the subdued 'Explode into Colo(u)rs' is an exercise in restrained tension, flickering percussion and noodling guitars doing most of the work as Jack Cooper's vocals drift lazily across. Lyrically, his attempts to blend the mundane with the abstruse end up feeling downright arbitrary more often than not, though; he veers between tired tropes - "conscious life, no absorption" on 'The Third Ridge' - to the utterly nonsensical - 'Astigmatism's "I am a deep sea diver / you are a winning quiz team" - in a manner that, in places, threatens to taint the otherwise flawless sense of cohesion they've lent to this record.

Regardless, though, Wooden Aquarium still makes it three fine full-lengths out of three for Mazes; that their development is consistently so apparent, too, bodes well for the future. If they can continue to combine their appetite for adventurousness with the raw energy that's defined them since day one, it should really be a matter of when, not if, they significantly expand their fanbase; for now, though, they can reflect on five years' work well done.

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