Map: Think Like an Owner (Velvet Blue Music, 2004)
With Jason Martin at the producer’s helm and a Smith‘s style cover, Dooley and the gang return with their second full length entitled Think Like an Owner. On this new full length, Dooley has gathered to himself a new band, hopefully more permanent, in the form of Loop (bass), Heather Bray (Guitar, Vox), and Ben Heywood (drums). This is a strong follow-up to Secrets by the Highway and shows that Map has come into its own and certainly found a signature sound. The melodies on the album are great, and the band shows superb talent in every second of each song. Nothing here is ever over-done and Dooley‘s writing talent just seems to get better every disc.
Owner opens with a catchy, brit-pop number with a bit of edgy darkness called “16 Jackies.” Of course, Dooley shows his ability both as a guitar player and songwriter. It’s a medium tempo song with a catchy hook and great drum work that really accents the song. “Vixen” follows closely on the heals of “16 Jackies” with its quiet, slow tune. Heather Bray takes the lead vocals on this song and, I have to tell you, I am impressed. I think the added element of a female voice over Dooley‘s guitar work and songwriting is an incredible combination. Also, Loop really brings a great feel to the song with his slick bass work. “Legal and Tender” is more of a driving, up-tempo song with great Starflyeresque guitar work. On this particular song, I think that I can hear some of Jason Martin’s producing coming through. It’s certainly not a bad thing, because I think he brings an impressive tone to Dooley‘s guitar work. Also, there is a harmonica mixed into some of the guitar parts, giving it a deeper feel.
“Pixels and Pearls” has a more lounge feel meets 50’s pop. It is light and airy, both in guitar tone and vocals, but is not hollow sounding. “Silhouette” also has the fingerprints of Martin on it in the guitar tones and, perhaps, some influence in the main hook of the song. It’s a great tune and is certainly a highlight on the disc. It is mid-tempo and builds to a crescendo in the middle of song and then quiets back down, sitting back into the groove. Dooley‘s harmonica makes another appearance in this song and gives another fanciful accent. “Girl” is another favorite of mine on this disc. It has a beach boys feel without the falsetto or, perhaps more closely, a Coco B’s style melody with acoustic guitar and Dooley‘s fab vox. There are accents of electric guitar floating about and some great, subtle drum work. “No Strength” anchors the disc with an up-beat, disco feel in the high-hat work. Heather Bray adds fab “oooo’s” to the BVG’s and Dooley‘s vocals are a little fuzzed out. This song is just, well, fun and leaves the listener with a smile on his/her face.
It’s always nice to hear a band develop and come out with an album that “sounds like them,” if you know what I mean. Map has certainly improved on their sound throughout their career and this disc is no different. It shows that Map has a great range of creativity but never loses continuity with the vision of the album.