In September 2015, Leicester quintet Maybeshewill announced that their time as a band would be coming to an end, with a final tour scheduled for 2016. In a post on their website entitled “The Last Tour”, they wrote “We don’t see another Maybeshewill record in our futures right now, but hopefully we will make music together again at some point. You can never say never”. It seems apt then, that their new record is called ‘No Feeling is Final’, their fifth studio release and first new material in seven years. There is a deeper meaning to the title of the new release than just their previous statement, as the band describe how it reflects the hope for a brighter future despite the global issues society is currently facing.
Environmental concerns are a key theme of the record, with single ‘Zarah’ featuring the only words on the album in the form of an excerpt from Labour politician Zarah Sultana’s 2020 maiden speech in the House of Commons. Layered beneath strings, keys, guitars and soaring orchestral chords, Sultana’s impassioned voice cuts through: “Make no mistake: the climate crisis is a capitalist crisis, and the climate struggle is a class struggle across borders”.
For an album without vocals, ‘No Feeling is Final’ isn’t lacking in narrative. The variety of sound that is deftly combined over the ten tracks takes you on a sonic journey of discovery, from soft moments of vulnerability to epic explosions of drama and everything in between. The irregular time signatures of ‘Complicity’, ‘Refuturing’ and ‘The Last Hours’ keep the pace interesting and unexpected, with odd key changes dotted around to add to the intrigue. ‘Refuturing’ features saxophonist Marcus Joseph, whose mellow tones add a sense of warmth to the dynamic combination of emotive strings and repeating piano melody with a slab of synth thrown in for good measure.
‘The Last Hours’ builds from simple beginnings into a dramatic cacophony of sound, before descending into a dreamy, ethereal soundscape, then rising up again from the ashes like a complex musical phoenix. The track is a masterpiece in sonic craftmanship, each element carefully considered and expertly placed to create a richly woven tapestry of instrumental joy. This album feels deliberate, with the ebbs and flows of each track acting as subplots to the overarching story of the release.
The sense of drama is set from the very beginning, with opening track ‘We’ve Arrived at the Burning Building’ wasting no time assaulting the listener’s ears with a pulsing drone, keys and rhythmic battle drums cascading into a mix of soaring strings and eerie synth. There are nods to traditional folk rhythms and harmonies scattered across the album, cleverly interspersed with more modern sounds. ‘Invincible Summer’ combines a cello part that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Game of Thrones montage with a percussive beat more akin to an EDM act. ‘Green Unpleasant Land’ begins with an almost Elizabethan mood – mellow and meditative until the last minute when everything builds to a crescendo of dramatic noise and screeching strings. The emotion behind this track is apparent, with so many elements combining to create a tangible atmosphere of frustration and exasperation, but also of hope and solidarity.
The haunting trumpet of ‘Even Tide’ rises over layers of electronic percussion, underpinned by ominous, warped bass notes to paint a vivid sonic landscape. The dynamics of ‘The Weight of Light’ once again show the scope of Maybeshewill’s writing, with an isolated guitar melody and a subtle beat that’s barely audible melting into a powerful string section, backed up as always by huge chords and synths galore.
Closing track ‘Tomorrow’ is probably the simplest on the record, and this feels like a perfect close to an album that’s trying to express so many feelings through music alone. Its gentle piano melody is warm and delicate, and there’s something incredibly soothing about the birdsong outro that manages to highlight the end message of the album. It’s as if the band are telling us that after the drama conveyed in the earlier tracks, the birds will sing and the sun will rise again; ‘No Feeling is Final’.
To keep an instrumental album interesting throughout, dynamics are key, and Maybeshewill are highly skilled at manipulating volume, tempo, tone and texture to convey a wealth of emotion. ‘No Feeling is Final’ somehow manages to evoke feelings of hope facing hopelessness, in a brilliant example of how instrumental artists can still be powerfully evocative without the need for words.