The Maccabees - Given To The Wild
Record Label: Fiction Records
Release Date: January 9, 2012 (UK), January 24, 2012 (U.S.)
Three years since the overlooked yet inviting Wall Of Arms, The Maccabees return with their third LP and it’s one that is set to propel them to new heights in every conceivable way. The group has made no secret about the fact that this is the first time they have felt as if they are their own band with their own true sound, putting every ounce of drive and effort into this album and taking their time whilst doing so. Patience is a virtue and needless to say we are rewarded for playing the waiting game with them. Given To The Wild is an undeniably evocative and infectious album ready to steal you away from your current favourite record.
The word “mature” is thrown around all too flippantly when describing what seems to be any sophomore or junior effort from an artist, regardless of whether or not much growth and expansion has actually occurred. Fortunately, there couldn’t be a more applicable term where this album is concerned as it can be applied to the clearly expansive sound landscapes, the fact that the band ended up tackling the majority of the production or the lyrical themes themselves. The topics of family, adulthood, nostalgia and “the circle of life” occupy every track here with lyrics such as “One thing’s for sure we're all getting older/so we take a lover waiting in the corner/before you know it, pushing up the daisies” (“Pelican”) it’s safe to say that The Maccabees previous two album feel like Given To The Wild’s baby brothers.
Given to the wild. Given to the wilder ways, While the ways of a child, Are whiled away.
The two minute intro of “Given To The Wild” sets the tone perfectly, a drone draws you in whilst Orlando Weeks’ falsetto vocals sweep over the top. The most notable thing about this introduction is how much it summarises the proceeding 12 tracks, not only is this not what you expect from The Maccabees but this is meticulously structured, detailed and drawn out whilst always remaining captivating. Leading seamlessly into the gentle roll of “Child” it becomes increasingly evident how much attention to every tiny sound and layer went into the process of making these songs, especially when it takes a turn three quarters of the way through by stepping up the pace several gears in terms of noise and effects. “Feel To Follow” is the band’s next single and it’s obvious to see why, the swing beat of Sam Doyle’s drums are the only accompaniment to Weeks’ tense vocals before invigorating keys shed light on everything and the song swells into a climax of huge proportions. “Ayla” is the track which we should be “thankful” for as it was the first song to be demoed and consequently set the benchmark and tone for the album. Arpeggiated pianos, some of the heaviest guitar sounds on the record and a hypnotising vocal showcase the group’s progression in their song writing and production skills before everything is abruptly halted to make way for the slower paced and dream-like “Glimmer”.
Come on, I’ll make it easy and I know,
Know it wouldn’t be forever.
Forever I’ve known, nothing stays forever.
Couldn’t you still try?
Instant stand-out “Forever I’ve Known” really transforms the landscape into a widescreen setting. Moody and spacious, the guitars almost squeal, imitating whale-song before what mimics the gentle sway of the sea ends up becoming a vicious and aggressive tidal wave, if not a tsunami, of sound. There are many examples of this truly vast sound throughout Given To The Wild, songs not only destined for mass sing-a-longs at festivals or future gigs but that also would fit in right at home in a stadium setting, particularly the likes of synth-driven and future single-material “Went Away” or the more experimental, processed beat-laden “Go” with its humongous gang vocal cry:
And they’ll call out with a name by, a name by which I’d never call you.
And we’ll grow out when it’s time,
And the skins we’ve known no longer fit us.
Another aspect that deserves noting is not only how every member is excelling with their instruments, in such a way that the two year gap since the last album has launched them into being amongst the most interesting musicians playing today but also how singer, Orlando Weeks’, vocals are at an all time level of greatness. Being able to execute the most passionate call to arms and contrast it with the most intricate croon or falsetto doesn’t go unnoticed and the most endearing part of it is how genuine every single word from his mouth sounds, there’s no facade. This has always been a big draw for the band, but now he’s truly perfected it from every angle. Whilst the record clocks in at almost an hour over 13 tracks, it could be argued that the length is an issue for the less patient/more casual music listener but the musicianship and flow of it all is such a draw that any issues with length should be forgotten as soon as the echoey guitars of epic closer “Grew Up At Midnight” chime out.
Given To The Wild is an album in the truest sense of the word. It’s an LP which consciously has a definitive beginning, middle, end and a flow designed to be taken in at once. It’s a full piece which is able to sound incredibly intimate and intricate at times whilst being as gigantic and loud as they have ever been at others. Balancing their most tender moments with their most diverse and devastating, The Maccabees have returned as a highly evolved beast more than ready to be released into the wild world.
Yeah they're generally a pretty big band in the UK I think, but I guess he means in general worldwide/states. Nice work on the review if not a little biased A pretty nice album too to add to that.
Generally overlooked but even in the UK. Their album sales have always been pretty moderate, their constant touring and pulling huge festival crowds in at the end of the Wall Of Arms run were the biggest popularity factor for them, then as they reached that point of pulling in huge crowds, they disappeared to write this album for 2 years, so the anticipation and triumph of the a return with this is what's helping them reach number 1 (hopefully).
Not to mention, there are very few albums to contend with in the album charts in the second week of a new year, where as when Wall Of Arms was released they were up against Adele, Beyoncé etc.
Adore this review, Kyle. Such a beaut of an album and will undoubtedly be one of the best of the year. So intricate, so meticulous, so grandiose. I love everything about it and I'm still only on a handful of listens -- it'll definitely benefit from many, many more.
Thanks a lot mate, really appreciate it. Knew you would love and so glad that you do.