Just under a year after the release of the Mae Shi's debut album, Terrorbird, comes the Heartbeeps EP, which delivers a concentrated blast of the band's hyperkinetic but still strangely accessible noise rock. It's almost as if the Mae Shi got bored with being so restless and needed to bring a little more order to their chaos to keep things interesting. Unlike Terrorbird's sprawling, free-for-all vibe, Heartbeeps is slightly more organized and unified -- the "Heartbeeps" interludes that run through the EP give it more structure, even as they recall the "Repetition" suite that closed Terrorbird. Heartbeeps' tracks also feel a little more structured, with recognizable (though not necessarily traditional) song forms; on "Crimes of Infancy," singer Ezra Buchla's gasping attempts to keep up with the rest of the band's frantic time shifts become hooks in their own right. Meanwhile, "The Meat of the Inquiry" and "Eat the Prize"'s rapid-fire bursts of noisy melody (or melodic noise) recall Deerhoof and the Curtains, though the Mae Shi aren't quite as effortlessly, cheerfully daft as either of those bands yet. The second half of Heartbeeps delves into messy, strangely bittersweet synth pop like "Spoils of Injury" and "Spoils of Victory," though this feels more like an elaboration on the EP's musical themes than a tangent. "The Universal Polymath" is as close as the Mae Shi get to Terrorbird's frenetic, angular dance-punk, but it still feels more connected to the rest of Heartbeeps than many of their previous album's tracks did. Though this EP is nowhere near as ambitious as Terrorbird was, that ends up working in the Mae Shi's favor; though they may not stick with this more cohesive approach on their next batch of songs, it certainly works on Heartbeeps.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares