It’s always frustrating when one of your favourite bands seems to become forgotten in a genre, resulting in them becoming criminally underrated. For me, that band is The Maccabees, written off by many as simple indie when in fact, they’re one of the most interesting guitar bands we have in this day and age. I lived in hope that one day the five piece would be brave and step up, accepting the mantle of art-rock with true enthusiasm and delivering something that would silence the sceptics.
It’s been a long, long time since I have been this excited for an album release, and I’m thrilled to say that Given To The Wild, whilst maybe not as instant as it’s predecessors, is definitely the best thing they could have made as artists. Skilfully moulded and divine in delivery, it’s exactly what you should expect from British indie.
Getting off to a winning start, Given To The Wild (Intro) sets the ambitious, cinematic tone with its misty vocals, putting the albums wintery theme in no doubt. It’s backed up swiftly by the so aptly named Child, painting images of a sleepy infant, rubbing their eyes awake, stretching and sprawling before descending into frantic guitar and trumpet lines as gorgeously melancholy as anything by Arcade Fire or the albums most revered reference artist, Kate Bush.
Its magical aura slipping slightly unaccompanied by it’s video, Feel To Follow is the most unequivocal touchpoint to demonstrate just how skilled Orlando and co are as craftsmen of musical melody and tension, taking the best elements of old favourite No Kind Words and feminising them, softening the edges until it becomes an emotional hurricane. It’s enough to makes you want to don a heavy coat, switch off your phone and go off into the countryside to get good and lost for a few hours. It will grow into something, very, very special live.
As for the rest of the album, the quality rarely dips. Coupling sedated Everything Everything-esque vocals in the verses with drifting Foals guitars and the classic Maccabees pacing drums, Glimmer makes for pretty listening, as does Forever I’ve Known, owing much to the bands previous cover of The Snowman classic Walking In The Air. As songwriters steeped in lyrical nostalgia, it covers the traditional themes of loss and aging, the sentiment of ‘nothing stays forever’ being repeated frequently throughout. In many ways, Given To The Wild speaks of the loss of innocence, the time to grow up and become the adult you always had the potential to be. The band have stated that this is the album they always knew they wanted to make, and it is perfectly representative of how far they’ve come as a group, a world away from songs about Swimming Pools and Lego.
With this album knocking at the top spot in the UK album charts, graduation day for the Maccabees has finally come, and this is their masterpiece, the musical equivalent of smoke trails in the sky, searching for new and exciting adventure, but still etching a visible, oddly beautiful ascent upon the skyline as they reach for ever increasing altitudes of success. A long time coming, and a point well proven.