Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Maccabees - Given To The Wild

2007 saw the arrival of South Londoners The Maccabees’ debut album ‘Colour It In’, a chirpy effort that would soundtrack first relationships and adolescent years. 2009’s ‘Wall Of Arms’ showcased The Maccabees’ affinity with horns, a horn section would feature on several of the album’s tracks, showing a more mature and developed sound, with help from renowned producer Markus Dravs. Now in the early stages of 2012, their long-awaited third album ‘Given To The Wild’ has been released. Have The Maccabees suffered from the difficult third album or have they created the album that should catapult them to great success?

The album begins with the ominous, minimalist title track, Orlando Weeks’ lullaby vocals overlapping the cascading drones. A horn section features on both “Child” and “Ayla”, the former being a beautiful track from start to finish, and an early indication of how sonically gorgeous this album is, and the latter being more upbeat, with an uplifting piano and vocal melody. “Feel To Follow”, opening on layered vocals and a drum beat, grows into a hyperactive crescendo, cymbals and guitar lines crashing against each other. “I’m a child to your voice” Weeks croons on the opening line of “Forever I’ve Known”, a heartbreaking plea to a former lover. “Pelican”, the first single to be released from the album, opens with sudden fervour, only taking a moment to catch its breath before launching back into frenzied excitement. It’s The Maccabees’ ability to balance the silent with the resonant, the slow with the quick, and the gentle with the raucous, that makes the songs on this album more impressive.

The only real flaw with ‘Given To The Wild’ is that many of the tracks, especially on the later stages of the album, drag on a bit. “Go” is quite breathtaking when the initial reverberated melody kicks in, but grates slightly as the song carries on. Most of the tracks on ‘Given To The Wild’ were created from the same outline of quiet to loud, however it isn’t a massive concern considering the melodies and the musicianship showcased.

Now onto the all-important closing track; ‘Colour It In’ had “Toothpaste Kisses”, ‘Wall Of Arms’ had “Bag Of Bones”, and ‘Given To The Wild’ has “Grew Up At Midnight”. Both of the previous closing tracks were gentle, quiet odes to a different form of love or beauty, whereas “Grew Up At Midnight” is more centred around childhood and innocence. The song starts as a whisper and builds, “We grew up at midnight, we were only kids then” being shouted as if two friends were reminiscing about the times they shared as kids. It is a fitting close to the album considering the amount of times the world “child” is used throughout the album.

It may only be the first few weeks of 2012, but “Given To The Wild” is already one of 2012’s musical highlights. This should be the album that catapults The Maccabees to greater things, whether it’s higher chart placements or bigger festival crowds, it will guarantee one thing; more fans of this beautiful music.


By Calum Stephen

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