In 2009 it took me several months to value the Maccabees’ second album. Ultemately, I found Wall of Arms’ catchy mix of Talking Heads, Gang Of Four, The Futureheads, Arcade Fire and The Fall quite irresistible. Sadly, I have to start over all over again, because the band’s third album, Given To The Wild, sounds nothing like its two predecessors. If before the Maccabees confined themselves to spiky and bouncy pop songs, this time around their sound is considerably more rustic and spatial. Given to the Wild’s instrumental Intro is almost reminiscent of Coldplay. Come the album’s second track, called Child, it’s time to realize that Wall of Arms’ cheeky pop is a thing of the past. Child, like many tracks that follow, calls for a comparison with Snow Patrols. It’s an epic sound, sometimes bordering on pompous, with dreamy vocals and a solid wall of guitar and synths.
On the one hand it’s a pity that the playful side of the Maccabees surfaces only sporadically on the new album. Most notably on the single Pelican. On the other hand Given to the Wild possesses a more distinctive than before. Despite the album’s grandeur, the Maccabees retain their dynamism and sharpness and in that way they are more epic in a Arcade Fire way than in a way the two aforementioned stadium-acts are.
I you cherished Wall Of Arms, this weighty new album will take some getting used to. You might not even want to. If instead you listen to Given to the Wild as a record by a new band that is inspired by Elbow, Bowie and Coldplay perhaps you’ll hear a compelling combination of dreaminess and grandeur or an atmospheric sound pierced with prickly guitars. Like me, you may even pick up some early influences by The Maccabees. A band that dared to reinvent itself and preserved its magical powers by doing so.
This review was posted before in Dutch on http://dekrentenuitdepop.blogspot.com/