By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Mar 05, 2011 at 8:21 AM

With all four members of the band starting or expanding their young families, it took Maritime four years since 2007's "Heresy and the Hotel Choir" was released to finish their latest record "Human Hearts."

The result of the wait is 10 songs of laid back hook-heavy indie-pop that stands as some of the band's best work to date.

For a band that has always traded in subtleties, walking the line between straight-up pop songs and indie quirks, the record's lengthy gestation is reflected in the smartly written tunes on "Human Hearts."

"Some of those songs on that record like "Air Arizona" we probably wrote in the first year after 'Heresy' and have been playing that live for like three years," said drummer Dan Didier, who started the band with singer Davey von Bohlen following the split of their old band the hugely influential emo-pop act Promise Ring.

Writing the new record took a de facto back seat as time became more of a premium for the band as they juggle careers and families.

"Sunday nights are like our bro time. We spend half the time catching up and venting because it's just a nice time to kind of relax and hang out," said Didier. "It became less of practice, rehearsal, or writing time or anything, and turned into four dudes just hanging out. It's like, 'Oh yeah, we should probably play a song or two'."

Despite the relaxed writing pace, or perhaps because of it, the new record is as balanced a piece of work the band has ever delivered with Dan Hinz's economic guitar work and von Bohlen's mellow vocals giving the songs an effortless feel that belies their expert craftsmanship.

"There are more songs on this record that I listen to and go back to and am into on an independent listener level than on the last one for me. There are some stronger songs that I really like more," said bass player Justin Klug.

The band recorded most of the record on their own before shipping it off to be mixed. Like the writing, recording was spread out over many months.

"It was sort of intimidating to know it was all on us to get things done rather than working with a producer that is sort of a taskmaster at the same time ... There was that looseness to it that I think helped the recording and the sounds and the vibe but at the same time was a little scary," Klug said.

"The work flow certainly left something to be desired," Didier dead panned.

The band is heading to Austin to play the South By Southwest film and music conference and are planning a handful of regional tour dates when the album is released April 5, including an April 9 release show at Turner Hall with Testa Rosa and Sat Nite Duets.

With lengthy touring now a thing of the past, the band members said they revel in the few shows they do get to play.

"The longer this goes on the more psyched I am to actually play every time," said Klug. "When you toured a lot some nights you just didn't have it or didn't want to do it. It becomes sort of routine ... But for me the fight to want to really want to do well because you don't get to do it very often, I enjoy that."

With the push of a new label, the high profile indie Dangerbird, and a slew of hook heavy singles like driving album-opener "It's Casual," the airy "Paraphernalia" and choppy rocker "Annihilation Eyes," the new record is poised to pull off the tortoise approach to success.

"We actually had a lot more time to sit on the songs and ruminate before because we took so long to write it," Klug said.

"There is just something nice about this record, maybe because of the process and the camaraderie of all hands on deck while we were recording," Didier said.