Perhapst – Revise Your Maps

written by: July 3, 2013
Album-art-for-Revise-Your-Maps-by-Perhapst Release Date: June 25, 2013


John Moen is back with more great music, this time as the lead singer and songwriter for his folk-rock solo project Perhapst.

Primarily known as the drummer and a backup singer for The Decemberists, Moen is no newbie to the music scene, and with Revise Your Maps, his second release under the Perhapst moniker, he’s proven he’s not new to quality writing, either.

Starting off the album with a laid-back guitar riff and catchy slide guitar, Moen graces the opening track with his warm falsetto that listeners will come to know and love over the course of the album. It’s the thing that sets it apart from every other folk-rock band out there, and where his music really soars above the rest.

“Birds Off A Wire” serves as a relaxing, yet powerful wave that comes out strong and calmly drags you into this beauty of an album.

Although the opening track is a good lead into the album, it also stands alone as one of the most unique songs. From here on, the record gets much more folky, as is the case with the title track, “Revise Your Maps.” The signature slide guitar and twangy acoustic guitar, along with the simple walking bass line and shrill harmonica, coat this song with a layer of summery, country vibes common throughout the album.

The next song, “Sorrow and Shame,” shows the “rock” side of the folk-rock distinction. It comes in fast with a cliche, yet fun guitar riff with heavy distortion. With its Beach Boys-esque chorus and slightly edgier vocals and lyrics, this song is a short and sweet ride from beginning to end.

The heavily-harmonized “Still (Mt. Zero)” is a gorgeous, minimalistic track. The focus is more on the lyrics and the vocal accompaniment, in which Perhapst really shines. Introspective lines like, “The mountains are high tonight/The roads that bend don’t lead anywhere/The patience I once had is gone, I want to know what will become,” speak volumes.

“Queen Mary” is by far Revise Your Maps‘ most original track and stands out far ahead of the rest. Moen’s gorgeous falsetto once again takes the lead, and his guitar keeps a quick, steady pace until, toward the end of the song, it comes to an epic build-up that is lacking on the rest of the album. Given the perfect execution of this powerful segment, it’s a shame that it’s the only such moment on Revise Your Maps. The album ends on a fittingly mellow note with “Lightlow Nightowl,” although the song doesn’t have much new to offer.

Perhapst’s sophomore release is a great summer album, although it all slightly blends together and tends to sound stale at times. Regardless, it is no disappointment from a fantastic musician, and proves to be a better fit for Moen’s writing style than Perhapst’s self-titled debut.

It’s nice to hear that Moen stays a little true to his “roots” as a member of The Decemberists, yet still manages to put out original music and could even stand alone as the frontman for this side project if he chose. Get excited for more music from Moen in the future, although hopefully we won’t have to wait another five years for new music from this intriguing project.

Perhapst – Revise Your Maps tracklist:

  1. “Birds Off A Wire”
  2. “Willamette Valley Ballad”
  3. “Ramble/Scramble”
  4. “Revise Your Maps”
  5. “Sorrow & Shame”
  6. “True Sparrow”
  7. “Fine Me”
  8. “Offering The Blues”
  9. “Still (Mt. Zero)”
  10. “Thousand Words”
  11. “Queen Mary”
  12. “Highlife”
  13. “Lightlow Nightowl”