Ten years have passed since instrumental rockers Maserati released their debut album, The Language of Cities, a streamlined and sleeker alternative to the epic and sometimes spaced-out post-rock that dominated the preceding decade. Yet it wasn’t much later that the band began a process of transformation into something simultaneously heavier and more danceable, thanks in large part to the addition of drummer Jerry Fuchs. Though the spirit of the band remained intact, their sound received a B-12 shot of space disco and heavy metal theatrics that took an already good thing and made it that much more lively and exciting. Fuchs’ untimely passing in 2009, however, left a pretty massive void within the band, one previously reserved for both his deft rhythmic skills and heavy dance influences, which contributed heavily to the direction the band’s been headed toward for the past eight years.
The physical presence of Fuchs may not be here on seventh album Maserati VII, though Mike Albanese lives up to his role as the band’s drummer, offering pulsing beats that are not only rock solid, but definitely heavy. And yet the trajectory that Maserati began with Fuchs on board merely pushes on here, with a driving, krautrock inspired space-rock sound the band refers to as “Moroder metal.” The comparison isn’t too far off; bassy synth arpeggios flutter in each track while guitarists Coley Dennis and Matt Cherry let their delay-driven riffs fly into the cosmos. That the band once cited U2 as an influence is pretty spot-on — the use of digital delay shows up in just about every track, as if the Edge decided to sidestep stadium rock momentarily in order to tap into some art rock impulses. Whether or not that ever actually happens, Maserati are pretty good at approximating the concept in practice.
Most of the tracks on Maserati VII are cut from the same cloth, grooving and throbbing with the kind of intensity rarely reserved for anything approaching post-rock. “Abracadabracab” finds the band laser focused on a soaring new wave throb, while “Martin Rev,” bearing few of the characteristics of the manic Suicide frontman, takes a slow trip into groovy ether. Yet the most sublime track, “San Tropea,” is saved for the very end, its mesmerizing riffs finding the happiest of mediums between A Flock of Seagulls and Ash Ra Tempel. Seven albums into their career, Maserati are still finding exciting realms to explore, and even when the landscape remains somewhat familiar, their slight renovations are enough to keep it feeling fresh.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.