By James Blake
The Maccabees: a band who have precariously teetered on the edge national treasure-dom since 2007’s Colour It In. Orlando Weeks and Co. have managed to pull themselves free from the wreckage of the noughties guitar boom and kept relativity quiet about the affair throughout. However, their latest offering Given To The Wild acts as a loud hailer, addressing the masses to take notice of a band who finally feel at one with their sound.
As the sporadic vulnerability of the introduction swirls into life, it could perhaps be perceived as anxiety, an overwhelming desire to impress. But as this etherial entity dissolves away we are soothingly transported to a world of soaring melodies, exceptionally tasteful production and the welcome return of well worn guitar treble as Child reminds the listener of that signature Maccabees sophistication.
Obligatory third album brass fades to present ‘Feel To Follow’, a stand out track of the album. Lovingly shaped percussive motifs organically intertwine with the delicacy of Week’s newly found laid back style to reveal a sound free of the teenage angst and rigidness from previous records. The track then canters full pace into a roaring crescendo with guitarist Hugo White throwing controlled caution to the wind to embellish the band’s ability to remain focused at the rawest reaches of their spectrum.
‘Ayla’ and the tracks that follow it give the first opportunity to take a breath and absorb the album as a whole. Their sound has become more cohesive and easier than ever to digest, while lyrical content maintains a more endearing quality as Week’s lyrical prowess raises its poetic yet matter of fact head throughout. A recently acquired appreciation for space becomes apparent as charmingly effective silences in ‘Forever I’ve Known’ are filled with the haunting reverb of Orlando’s vocal and mouth watering glimpses of lilting guitar licks.
Lead single ‘Pelican’ injects some pace while simultaneously showcasing The Maccabees’ knack for producing sickeningly catchy tracks without the need of a Jacwob remix or Rhinnna. It also signifies an end to the drought in genuinely decent guitar bands and hopefully opening the flood gates for others to come forward (Bloc Party we’re looking at you!)
Despite their ability to give the saturated guitar music genre a well needed lease of life, ‘Go’ suggests even the Maccabees can’t resist the heart stopping allure of an 808 drum machine to bring a track to life. It’s excusable though, they are only human. That said, the jagged edges of the synth on ‘Slowly One’ sit slightly uncomfortably on the soft bed of atmospheric percussion and layered airy vocals.
Just as your subconscious heads for itunes at the end of ‘Unknown’, another two tracks emerge onto the horizon to utterly contort the notion that the industry standard 11 tracks is enough to convey a band’s message. Their bravery is justified as closer, ‘Grew Up At Midnight’ soothingly cements The Maccabees’ evolution into a band who feel themselves and have the right to be proud of it. It fittingly returns to the humble beginnings of Given to the Wild, and rounds off an album which could finally see them gaining the respect and certified longevity they deserve.