REVIEW: The Maccabees – Given To The Wild

Since 2007 and their debut Album ‘Colour It In’, The Maccabees have come a long way from singing about wave machines and ‘Toothpaste Kisses’. Their third album ‘Given To The Wild’ was released on Wednesday the 9th of January and has proven evidence of the band’s observable maturing since their adolescent, harmless debut.

‘Given To The Wild’ entered the UK mid-week charts at #1 before debuting at #4 on the official weekend charts, the band’s highest ever placing album. With this record, there are remnants of the old Maccabees, there is an essence that holds this album and the last together however, with it’s bigger, more anthemic sound and subject matter – as well as the hype factor off  the back of their last album obviously – it’s no wonder that this album is looking to propel them to new heights.

With ‘Wall of Arms’, the band’s second album released in 2009, The Maccabees developed their sound from ‘Colour it in’, including brass sections to songs like ‘Dinosaurs’ and using samples, like on the end ‘No Kind Words’. Their Lyrics developed as well, to a more abstract field, whilst still maintaining the themes of love and relationships that their first album projected. Here again, The Maccabees have evolved. Teaming up with Tim Goldsworthy (producer of The Rapture and Unkle), with his background in electronic music, the band have succeeded in adding new textures to their sound. A bigger, more ethereal soundscape encapsulates the album. The brass is still there, but it’s more dominating, in songs like ‘Child’. A piano has also found its way onto the album in ‘Ayla’, its arpeggiating loop underlying the whole track and creating a grandeur that’s unmatched in majesty by any previous efforts from the band. Electronic drumbeats have a heavy bearing on track, ‘Go. ’With glimmering guitar sounds, covered in reverb and a more composed, denser sound, ‘Given To The Wild’ creates images in one’s head of the band playing at night to a giant crowd on the pyramid stage at Glastonbury, rather than a daytime set in a tent.

Lyrically, the band’s singer Orlando Weeks has developed as well. To his own admission, age has been a contributing factor to the change of subject matter in his lyrics. He told the BBC that “it didn’t feel appropriate to write love songs after turning 28”. Instead, ‘Given To The Wild’ deals with issues such as aging and the passing of time, “one thing’s for sure we’re all getting older / Before you know it we’re pushing up daisies” sings Weeks on the album’s first single ‘Pelican’ and the worlds transience “And I know nothing stays forever” he sings on ‘Forever I know’.

Whether it is from a new found confidence in their music or an assurance of this records success off the back of their last album, The Maccabees appear to have bent to no demands to create number one hits. The record is whole and a complete work of art with every track holding it’s own justified place on the album. There aren’t any of the bouncy, catchy tunes that pervaded ‘Wall Of Arms’ but the songs on this album are more sophisticated and will hopefully continue to reach out to the band’s fans as well as win them a whole new following. With ‘Given To The Wind’,  obviously haven’t felt the need to put any catchy singles at the beginning of the album to lure listeners in either. Instead, the album progresses and builds up as an entire, complete entity of its own.

The album’s opener, ‘Given The Wild (Intro)’ is an atmospheric drone of an intro that leads into ‘Child’ a track pronounced with brass and a groove provided by the drums and bass that long with the way Weeks sings, is reminiscent of Foals’ second album ‘Total Life Forever’. This song, along with first single ‘Pelican’, a song that builds up from anticipatory punching guitar into an exciting sprawling chorus,  are the albums most immediately relatable songs. The whole of the album is filled with majestic, anthemic songs that wouldn’t go amiss in an arena set. Not that that’s on the cards just yet for The Maccabees. With a tour of  the UK to concentrate on and then the festival circuit in the summer, The Maccabees will be looking to – deservedly – edge their way up the billings and get ‘Given To The Wild’ to bigger and bigger audiences.

It’s the first album that band are confident enough to deem a complete representation of themselves on record. it’s an album of anthems and it’s an album of maturity. ‘Given To The Wind’ is out on Fiction Records and available in stores now.

By Tom Clarke

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