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The Maccabees: Given to the Wild

The band continues to be overwhelming, capable of sounds both gigantic and understated.

(Fiction)
****

It was no reflection on the Maccabees' 2007 debut, Colour It In, that few expected the London/Brighton indie outfit still to be around five years later. The whimsical pop record was catchy and inventive, but the group was somewhat unfairly tarred with the "landfill indie" brush that signalled the end for so many of its contemporaries.

However, the band surprised everyone with 2009's Wall of Arms, which added a darkness and intensity to their tightly sprung creations. Given to the Wild sees the Maccabees moving further in this direction and also increasing the scale of their sound-to-epic proportions.

The album's centrepiece, Forever I've Known, demonstrates their new approach best. It begins with the band taking their time as the singer Orlando Weeks bares his soul with remarkable fragility. Then comes an exhilarating crescendo worthy of the rockers Explosions in the Sky, followed by Weeks's gorgeous "nothing stays forever" lament.

The first single, Pelican, opens up with a slightly jarring post-punk refrain, but morphs within seconds into a thing of tremendous beauty. The hushed Glimmer shows off the band's most gorgeous chorus to date, and its wonderfully melancholic spirit doesn't relent until the yearning closer Grew Up at Midnight.

With their humble beginnings now a fading memory, the Maccabees have become one of the most consistently overwhelming guitar bands around, somehow capable of sounds that are both gigantic and understated.

 

artslife@thenational.ae

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