On the surface, Map of the Universe seem perched in an early position for the inevitable 1990s revival that is sure to begin any day now. Across these 10 minutes they certainly do remind me of a great deal of the alt-rock scene once documented well on 120 Minutes. There's a more experimental, dissonant undercurrent to most of these tracks that put them in league with the likes of Spacemen 3 or Loop as opposed to the Breeders or Belly.
There are some obvious nods to the 1970s punk sound as well, both "The Cop" and "Animal Peace" have that early Ramones sing-a-long chorus vibe to them, around rapid fire verses. Luckily they stay much more faithful to the roots of punk than the bands who came along in the '90s doing the same thing that most of us would prefer to forget. The two slower tracks are more apt to demonstrate this noiser side of things though.
"Plastic Form Beauty" moves along at a calmer, more bass driven pace, with a seething bed of noisy guitar that's more Robert Hampson or Sonic Boom than any other forgettable 1990s guitarist. The closer, "Social Royal" is a particular high point for me, as the greater sheen of distortion, coupled with the pacing, apes classic Sonic Youth in a somewhat more accessible way.
It's not an insult to consider Map of the Universe a pop band, because that's what they are. But more in a classic, song oriented sense instead of a commercial entity one. The more dissonant elements are supposed to form the foundation of their next EP, which will probably be even more interesting. It is not going to rock your world, but this little EP will surely give a nice, warm, nostaligic feeling.