Release Date: May 4, 2009
Record label: Fiction
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Enjoying the widescreen production that Markus Drav once brought to Arcade Fire and Coldplay, this time round the vocal quiver and inimitable art-pop hooks that distinguished the Maccabees' 2007 debut are offset by darker undercurrents. Wall of Arms is the meticulously evolved sound of a band aiming to bid to breathe life into British indie. .
No prizes for guessing which band have been hogging the Maccabees' stereo. Wall of Arms makes use of epic production, eerie chants and the general feeling that Orlando Weeks is singing like the world's about to end tomorrow (which, of course, it may well be). If this all sounds a bit Arcade Fire, note that production credits go to Markus Dravs, who worked on Neon Bible.
British indie is in crisis. Just look at the leading lights: The Arctic Monkeys have been off the scene for nearing two years, and could easily collapse under the pressure to deliver another flawless album later this year. There’s Razorlight and the Kooks—two bands who have, in the past twelve months, released limp and unconvincing new albums. And the band generally regarded as the biggest band of UK indie, Oasis, released their debut fifteen years ago.
For the on the up British indie band, the most common method of embiggening one’s sound involves quite a lot of coke, a minimum of one orchestra, and probably some lyrical references to your new friend and equal God/Jesus/The Messiah (see The Verve, Oasis, Stone Roses et al). Typically the results are horrendous, and get described in such hateful clichés as ‘life affirming’ by awful idiots who need to subject themselves to all of ‘Champagne Supernova’ to confirm what Descartes pointed out rather more pithily back in 1644. It’s nice to then note that self-consciously epic as it may be, The Maccabees’ Wall Of Arms is more in line with the nervy, nerdy yearning of Arcade Fire than the second album bloat that so often sets in; stately and majestic, but emphatically not arrogant or presumptuous.
The Maccabees’ début album, 2007’s Colour It In, closed with the track Toothpaste Kisses - a gorgeous, tender pop song that deserved huge success. Unfortunately, it didn’t even chart and so joined the legions of great lost singles.Undeterred, The Maccabees are back and have roped in Midas-fingered producer Markus Dravs (Bjork, Coldplay, Arcade Fire) for Wall of Arms. Dravs’ influence is all over the record, specifically the touches he brought to Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible; in fact, frontman Orlando Weeks has more than a touch of Win Butler in his startled yelp of a voice.As well as Arcade Fire flourishes, The Maccabees draw their influences from far and wide.