Release Date: Jan 9, 2012
Record label: Fiction
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
As [b]Faris Badwan[/b] put it earlier this year after [a]The Horrors[/a]’ freakish foray onto the Radio 1 A-list and the Top Five of the albums chart, “you don’t have to compromise to connect with people”. Like [a]The Horrors[/a], [a]The Maccabees[/a] hovered on a cusp with their third album. Both bands won hearts with their 2007 debuts, and critical respect as Britain’s very best bands with their 2009 follow-ups.
Over the holidays, John Lennon and Paul McCartney beamed out from the NME's cover, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' failed audition for Decca Records. Inside, a bold analogy was drawn: anyone who suggests the commercial state of British alternative rock is currently parlous (perhaps citing that only one even vaguely alternative artist made the top 100 selling singles of the year and that was Noah and the Whale) is as hopelessly misguided as Dick Rowe, the executive who turned the Beatles down. We are, in fact, living through "a glorious time when rock'n'roll proves the doubters wrong".
The MaccabeesGiven to the Wild[Fiction; 2012]By Daniel Griffiths; January 19, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetIgnore those words you’ve probably read about how The Maccabees are living up to their billing as the "British Arcade Fire" on third album, Given to the Wild. It’s not that the comparisons are tiresome by now, it’s just that labeling them as such does a great to disservice to the music and the hard work the band have put into crafting this fine album. If anything, Given to the Wild is where The Maccabees became, well, The Maccabees.
Having first arrived on the scene as antsy Futureheads copyists, the Brighton, England-based Maccabees ditched the sharp angles, purchased a few Arcade Fire albums, and now enter 2012 as a panoramic stadium-ready act in the Coldplay mould. No, wait, hold on—before you run away screaming from the five-piece’s latest LP Given to the Wild, please trust me when I say that the group is not as bland as such a comparison might lead you to believe. Yes, there’s an abundance of soothing sonic pleasantries that wouldn’t sound out of place in an office lunchroom, and singer Orlando Weeks’ timbre harbors a very strong resemblance to that of Chris Martin more often than not.
With far too many publications and artists that should know better repeatedly telling all and sundry about the supposed 'death of guitar based music', it's heartwarming to know not everyone is ready to pay their last respects just yet. Somewhat unjustifiably labelled as 'landfill indie' when such a tag is more befitting of those whose unoriginal wares followed in their wake (we're looking at you Bombay Bicycle Club and Two Door Cinema Club), The Maccabees have always set their stall out as leaders rather than followers. One step ahead of the game and several leaps in front of their contemporaries, if 2007's debut Colour It In was the sound of youthful exuberance than its follow-up Wall Of Arms demonstrated a strident maturity.
The Maccabees emerged at a time when UK bands had it good. In the mid-2000s, the Futureheads, Bloc Party, and Arctic Monkeys all released exciting debuts. And there was enough connective tissue between the groups to make them feel like they somehow belonged together-- shared post-punk influences helped in that regard. These bands made sense both in isolation and as a whole; the Maccabees debut record, Colour it In, slotted just fine on the racks next to Maximo Park.
Of all the mid-ranking indie outfits still toiling at rock's coalface despite widespread public indifference towards the electric guitar, the Maccabees always seemed as though they would come good one day. On the face of it, this London-based fivesome have behaved like tight-trousered young saplings, blown this way and that by fashion. Their 2007 debut, Colour It In, played vigorously at the fleeting vogue of Britpop nouveau.
Throughout the Maccabees’ career, even from the early stages, lead vocalist Orlando Weeks would often find the time to speak about The National and how he wanted his band to wear the influence of the Brooklyn-based critical darlings. In ‘Wall Of Arms’, the Brighton band’s second record, the introduction of a rousing horn section seemed like a crass attempt to draw a line between the two groups. Weeks himself would often repeat lyrics over and over, as if he was channeling the deep baritone of Matt Berninger.
If only all bands had the guts and honesty of The Maccabees. Alex Denney 2012 Once upon a time in prelapsarian 2003 – just before high-speed internet services made one-click clever-clogs out of today’s generation of musicians – The Maccabees started life as all good schoolboy bands should. Cutting their teeth with songs titled after picnics and wave machines, the youngsters rattled off plucky, heartfelt pastiches of big brother-type peers like The Libertines and Bloc Party, amassing a small army of fans and eventually striking a record deal with Fiction.
Ever since the bottom fell out of reedy-post-punk mid-last decade, fundamentally lightweight indie acts have taken to making grand statements. The efforts of say, Foals, to survive the scrappy-angular purge involved contriving profundity from self-consciously massive vistas. While you can't begrudge the desire of a band to grow, the leap from callow urchin rock to The Joshua Tree-with-art ticks involved stretching very little a very long way.