Formed in 2004 while founding members Erin Elders (guitar), Shiraz Dada (bass), Chris Hainey (drums), and Dave Davison (guitar/vocals) were attending Columbia College in Chicago, the band combined their individual interests in art, literature, film, and music to create a quirky, technically inspired, math rock sound. After recording an unreleased set titled Bird Barnyard, Maps & Atlases released their official debut EP, Tree, Swallows, Houses, in late 2007 on Sargent House
. A second EP, You and Me and the Mountain, arrived in 2008.
While recording their first full-length, they signed with Barsuk Records
. Months later, in June 2010, the group released the effort Perch Patchwork, which included the songs "Solid Ground" and "Pigeon." The following year, the quartet packaged a trio of remixes, a live recording, and a new track ("Living Decorations") onto the Living Decorations EP. Their third release in as many years arrived in 2012 with the group's sophomore full-length, Beware and Be Grateful, which featured "Old & Gray" and "Fever." Following promotion for Beware, founding guitarist Erin Elders parted ways with the band to start the band, Wedding Dress
. The remaining members continued as a trio, playing occasional concerts over the years without new material. While Davison continued writing as a solo artist, Hainey would focus on photography and Dada recorded with other groups.
Six years after the release of Beware and Be Grateful, the threesome returned with their fourth effort, Lightlessness Is Nothing New. Debuting a distinctly poppier sound, Lightlessness was issued in June 2018 and was home to singles "Fall Apart" and "Ringing Bell." ~ Neil Z. Yeung & MacKenzie Wilson