The Maccabees - Given To The Wild

Will send them stratospheric
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It’s an urban myth that bands are not nurtured by record labels anymore. People point to now-household names like Bruce Springsteen and say, ‘What if he’d been dropped after his second album due to low sales?’ Then they’ll bemoan the wasted promise of Twisted Wheel and accuse the record companies of not believing in their artists. Well, if you’re as shit as Twisted Wheel, nobody is going to believe in you. If you’re The Maccabees, however, and you’re on a label that prides itself on cultivating their acts, you’ll find there’s plenty of time to grow and improve, and, by the time you reach your third album, it will be the best thing you’ve ever done.

Yes, two years after the dark yet incisive ‘Wall Of Arms’, the South London five-piece have not only developed their intoxicating soundscapes into majestic pools of sound so deep you just want to dive in, they have, quite possibly, delivered the album that will send them stratospheric. It’s their ‘Born To Run’.

At times epic, and at others beautifully tender, ‘Given To The Wild’ is an album of sparkling profundity. ‘Child’ rolls you in gently; singer Orlando Weeks is soaked in reverb atop a dreamy, chiming score, which three minutes in suddenly crashes into a feverish rhythm - it’s a journey designed to surprise and delight. ‘Ayla’ is carried by a scintillating piano, with fuzzy choruses that reach like spires into swirling skies. ‘Glimmer’ is an aptly-titled underwater swim, while ‘Forever I’ve Known’ soothes with whale-song guitars before biting like a shark attack - “Nothing stays forever,” Orlando mourns, but you kinda wish this song could.

An obvious first single, ‘Pelican’ is the most accessible and lucid track here - persistent guitars and a frantic pace leaves you breathless; the breakneck staccato stabs and slices, while Orlando’s words cut deeper: “We’re all getting older / And before you know it / We’re pushing up the daisies”. The programmed beats that usher in ‘Go’ are eerily desolate, but they deftly underpin a glorious mountain of strings and a piercing guitar solo. If your heart isn’t already slightly bruised by the time you get to ‘Slowly One’, then prepare to be crushed - “Every little loving word / Said out of love / Going cold / Little by little,” Weeks softly breathes, as sympathetic strings build to a towering cushion of dissonant guitars and warm chorals. ‘Grow Up At Midnight’, like a lingering kiss, starts slow and soft, builds into a passionate embrace, then pulls away suddenly yet sweetly, leaving you begging for more as the album fades away.

‘Given To The Wild’ will penetrate your soul. A band that makes something this poignant and evocative deserve to be heard. Given the time to explore and expand, this quintet have proven themselves to be something very special. I have seen the future of dreamy pop, and its name is The Maccabees.

9/10

Words by Simon Harper

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