Monday, 9 January 2012

Review: The Maccabees - Given to the Wild

 So this is the first album released in 2012 that I have to review. So to officially start 2012 off with a buzz of rapid energy, clearly there is no better act to do such a thing than a fresh sounding dynamic and fun indie rock band. A band like Brighton's The Maccabees who have charmed people with their upbeat and energetic indie anthems on their first two albums Colour It In and Wall of Arms. As enjoyable as their music is, there has been a temptation to think of the band as perhaps being "The poor man's Futureheads." So, with this in mind, third album Given to the Wild is a breath of fresh air for a group. They've dropped the straightforward indie rock, brought in some synthesizers and have something more dreamy on offer.
Immediately this means that the quirky fun that people are used to hearing from this band isn't so prevalent on this album, instead listeners are presented with more tranquil and ambient offerings. This may serve as an instant disappointment for many who wanted more definitive Maccabees music but if it leaves you intrigued, this is an album worth checking out. It shows the group venture in various territories of the more sophisticated side of alternative rock and doing it pretty well indeed. It's seen as sparkling and serene riffs parade in the background of Feel to Follow as buzzing synthesizers and the delicate vocals of Orlando Weeks take the forefront.
 This dream pop influence is easily used to broaden the bands range of emotion and personality of their songs and mass contrasts can be found between the uplifting Ayla which with it's massive hooks and fun horn-infused backdrops serves as a feel-good piece of music with a real sense of pleasant charm, and the slower less enthusiastic Forever I've Known which with it's dwindling basslines and soft vulnerable vocal performance carries a more melancholic artistic merit and a character of desolation throughout.
 The group use this space rock elements to combine their sound with various other rock genres. Pelican sees the ambient synth infused style mixed with the catchy and hooky funk rock of the Red Hot Chili Peppers with a truly psychedelic result and the synthesizer backdrops of Go sounds like a modern and more subtle take on the ska-influenced punk rock of the 1980s. Needless to say, it all comes to a stunning and spell-binding effect and leaves listeners hooked.
 In taking final consideration of this album, though introduction of this spacey more artful dream pop influence to their music as opposed to straightforward indie rock is a pure change for The Maccabees, whether it make truly more original is another issue. I wouldn't refer to this music as the music of "the poor man's Futureheads" but I may think of it more as the poor man's version of The Horrors' Skying, a truly brilliant display of dream pop. With that said it's still a pretty great album and very much worth checking out. Perhaps 2012 will be a year where more creative techniques of alternative rock crawls into the mainstream and art rock and psychedelia makes a stunning comeback. It's happened so far.

The Maccabees' Given to the Wild is out now via Fiction. The band will tour the UK throughout January and March.  

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