Often derided but still very much present, The Maccabees are a divisive band. Usually consigned to a nuance free wasteland of polarised opinions the South London five piece are indie landfill shite to many and purveyors of affecting pop to others. Their third full length offering may show that, in the end, The Maccabees are not quite either.
Given to the Wild is certainly light years removed from their debut ‘Colour It In,’ whose twee lamentations of lost love and leisure centres was gratingly earnest. Far grander in scope and execution, this is a considered, sometimes beautiful, album that does not quite point to truly special band but confirms that The Maccabees are worth your time and effort. Lead single ‘Feel to Follow’ is gem of a pop song, one that is sweet without becoming saccharine as well as boasting a euphoric, soaring chorus. Opener ‘Child’ is cast in a similar mould, actively showcasing the engaging rather than frustrating parts of lead singer Orlando Weeks’ sensitive art school type persona. The track builds beautifully to a tumultuous climax replete with bold brass arrangements and a chaotic guitar line.
‘Glimmer’ avoids becoming a cloying mess with a majestic last minute, that elevates the preceding two and half minutes of plod by swathing the melody in reverb and adding an astute horn line, the like of which is becoming this bands stock trade. Whilst ‘Pelican’s’ lazy, bass chug signals a partial return to the old days it is a track saved, unusually, by the starkness of the lyrics. Latchmere may well have had a wave machine but now, oddly, Weeks and co are ruminating on the brevity of human existence. There may be an element of halls of residence philosophising in their lyrics but it’s an improvement none the less. It too features a wild, unforecast dash for the tracks finishing line and by it’s close the mid point of the record has been given a delirious shot in the arm.
These frenetic qualities make Given to the Wild great, the huge, hanging left turns that take this record above and beyond what many people thought a Maccabees LP could ever constitute. But for all the innovation of tracks like ‘Go’ there are a few ponderous moments on a thirteen track roster that clocks in at just under an hour, notably the interminably sluggish ‘Heave.’ This is an album that challenges the notion that The Maccabees are disposable drivel but doesn’t quite put them on a plane above some of their more risible contemporaries; maybe they’ll have to wait until their fourth album to truly lay that ghost to rest.By Jake Farrell