For me, the new Maccabees record was always going to be a big one. I’ve enjoyed their last two albums so much that I had high expectations of album number three. I remember reading reviews of Wall Of Arms describing how much the band had ‘grown up’ since Colour It In, which is probably true. So, have they done the same thing again and further refined their sound? And is it good?
Their is little doubt that the album retains some of that sincerity its predecessor had. Songs like ‘Child’, ‘Feel To Follow’ and ‘Forever I’ve Known’ are sombre, although they never cross into sentimentality in large part thanks to the engaging percussion that is, for me, so typical of the band. The album is ambitious: it sounds like it’s been written for bigger venues, with heavy reverb featuring on some of the vocals and guitars, as well as the occasional foray into ‘epic’ breakdowns and indulgences. ‘Glimmer’ is a pretty good example of this sound, and while it’s not normally something I would consider to be a great thing, I love that song. It’s one of the highlights of the album.
Orlando Weeks’ vocal have still got that fragile quality to them, something that Bombay Bicycle Club’s Jack Steadman also has. The two bands have been and will continue to be referred to in the same breath, so I won’t do that here. Not again, anyway.
‘Pelican’ is very much the ‘pop single’ from the album. It’s a nod to their old records, with the driving percussion and repetitive guitar riff that guarantees it will get played at Indie nights all over the country. But it hints at the new record throughout, with a little more electronic production filtering its way through, something you can’t miss on songs like ‘Went Away’ or ‘Go’. I like this merging of the traditional band and synths/pads to create a bigger sound. Another sign of them moving in this direction is the guest vocals of Catherine Pockson from Alpines on ‘Unknow’. She adds a lovely dynamic to the song and if you’re interested on hearing a little more of her then click on this link.
There are moments where the production looks like it’s about to go a little over the top but this is usually tempered by Weeks’ vocals. In case you doubted it, the band are still very capable of breaking into the big choruses that characterise previous favourites like ‘No Kind Words’ and ‘Love You Better’. This is now supplemented by some additional production that adds a little more scope to the songs but occasionally undermines the feel of the album.
File next to: Bombay Bicycle Club, Good Shoes, Alpines, Foals
Listen to: Glimmer [Buy the album]