Tristan Paiige, courtesy of Kill Rock Stars

According to Maria Maita-Keppeler, I Just Want to Be Wild For You—the forthcoming album from her somewhat eponymous indie-rock band MAITA—is centered around navigating disconnect and intense emotion.

"[This album is about] mining those moments where we feel very far away from one another or from ourselves,” she explained. “Or where something isn’t quite landing. Finding that thread of the passion that exists, simmering under the surface, because there’s a gap, that wants to be bridged, that isn’t being bridged.”

Following the 2017 five-track EP Waterbearer and quickly on the heels of 2020's acclaimed full-length Best Wishes, Wild For You is set to release tomorrow, Friday February 18, on Portland label Kill Rock Stars.

Early reviews praise the album and laud MAITA as one of the most impressive and shining acts to come out of Portland in quite some time.

“We were fortunate enough to get to bring the band together right before everything became a thing,” Maita-Keppeler said, about recording Wild For You. She and the band went into the studio right before the pandemic started, in 2020. Throughout, Maita-Keppeler and engineer/electric guitarist Matthew Zeltzer continued to work on the project.

Engineered in various Portland locations by Zeltzer, who also added warm guitar licks to the record, the 11-track LP also features Nevada Sowle (bass, Wurlitzer, upright piano, synth) and Cooper Trail (drums, assorted percussion, piano, Rhodes, and synth). The tracklist includes five previously released outstanding singles, like the soft, moody opener, “Loneliness,” and the epic “Honey, Have I Lost It All?,” in addition to the appropriately titled “Road Song,” “You Sure Can Kill A Sunday, Pt.1,” and standout track “Pastel Concrete.”

On the album opener “Loneliness,” Maita-Keppeler sings in her distinctive and emotive voice: “Out of the restaurant, onto the pavement/ I caught my own face in a window arrangement/ Before I could pose, tilt my chin, rest my lips/ I looked pissed; it’s no wonder I was left alone.” The album's next track, “Pastel Concrete," swings abruptly upbeat, despite lyrics that touch on not being able to “afford your love.”

Other highlights from Wild For You include the dynamic two-part “Ex-Wife,” and the validation-seeking “Light of My Life (Cell Phone Song).” The final and title track “Wild For You,” was initially intended to go on Best Wishes, but didn’t make the cut. Now it steers a whole album.

During the pandemic, MAITA was in the same boat as the vast majority of music groups, having shows canceled and not being able to tour in support of new releases. Because of her immensely private songwriting process, Maita-Keppeler says she didn't work through songs or write much during the first year. Instead, she took to revisiting visual art, which she studied in college. “I ended up doing this visual album,” she explained.

Maita-Keppeler made sketched prints for each song on Best Wishes, and then screen-printed the images onto hand-cut cards, which she assembled and shipped out. She also painted pet portraits and Christmas cards to send to her friends.

“Having less things going on in your world socially and having a lot more time within the walls of your home made memories more potent." she said. "You dig through your memories a lot more. You think a lot more about things that have already happened 'cause not a lot is happening right now… there was some cool songwriting that came out of just thinking about my memories, my past, and how all of those kind of related to one another.”

After the new album debuts, MAITA will play a must-see homecoming show at Mississippi Studios. Maita-Keppeler plans to play the album from front to back. Fans might also hear a cover—Nirvana’s “Dumb” or My Chemical Romance’s “Helena.”

“Dynamics are really important to us. Like, the highs and the lows, the emotional depths and the heights,” Maita-Keppeler said. “We really want to honor that with the live show. So I think we really want to take people on the emotional journey as much as possible.”

Asked how it feels to finally be able to tour in support of a record—after spending much of the promotion for Best Wishes in lockdown—Maita-Keppeler admitted “It feels really good,” but added “I think that because we've had so many things get canceled, we're not really going to believe that we're on tour until we are actually on tour. I don't think it's going to hit us until we're on the road, when we're going to sound check, when it's a show, and we're not at home anymore. I think that's going to be like the special moment where we're like, ‘Oh man, this is real and it’s happening.’ Until then, it just doesn't feel real.”

MAITA plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi, Sat Feb 19, 9 pm, $12, tickets here, w/Ezza Rose