A bunch of beardos from Seattle with serious Rick Danko and Neil Young fixations, the Maldives follow up their out-of-print 2006 debut by swinging for the fences on Listen to the Thunder. The band also wastes no time getting to sweeping anthems like “Goodbye”, with its cascading organ and violin and big soul-wrenching chorus. The go-big approach—the band makes the most of its nine members—never overwhelms the songs, which range from gypsy jams by-way-of Dylan circa Desire, pedal-steel balladry, and backwoods ‘n’ front-porch mountain tunes. Some of Thunder feels conspicuously derivative, like “Cold November”, which sounds nicked from the Band’s “Rockin’ Chair”, while “Say Nothing” sounds like a ringer for Neil Young’s “Helpless”. All this means, though, is that these songs are quite gorgeous, and that the Maldives have chosen worthy heroes. In fact, the Maldives mostly sound like an update of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, of all groups, both in their harp-lovin’ rural drawl and early ‘70s-style country-rock. Still, familiar sounds or not, the Maldives can take plenty of credit for songs as uniformly heartfelt and satisfying as these.
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