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High Hopes, Greater Disappointment
Given To The Wild - The Maccabees
Member Name: Andy.mack
Given To The Wild - The Maccabees
Advantages: Only two tracks that really work for me
Disadvantages: The album sounds so far removed from the style that got the band their big break
I first came across The Maccabees in 2007 when they released their first album. They had a very fresh and interesting approach to the Indie pop market that really seemed to appeal to me. Now returning with their third album, I was hoping that it would improve of their second release in 2009. I still love and regularly listen to 2007's "Colour It In", but I've never really been captivated by the follow up Wall Of Arms. It seems though that the return of The Maccabees has got the critics excited and so I was keen to see what the new album had to offer.
What's In A Name
The band's name comes from, what can only have been a drunken night, where they were flicking through the bible picking random words. Having passed up their original choice of Thanet band they landed on The Maccabees. Despite the religious routes of their name the band have stated on numerous occasions that they aren't in any way religious, which again leads me to believe that drink had to be involved in the London 5 pieces name choice.
It would seem that the music world has finally seen that the Maccabees are a band that should be taken seriously, with many suggesting that this is the bands big break. It would be the first real breakthrough for the band and for a short time last week it looked like they would get number 1 in the album charts, settling in the end for number 4, which still makes it their best performing album to date, but is it their best?
Given To The Wild
For me the answer to that question is a simple no. The debut album is still by far and away the bands best album and although the sound has matured a lot since then, they don't seem to really have been able to capture the energy levels in their music anymore. It's evident from the opening track of Given To The Wild, which builds very slowly and creates a very atmospheric and solemn mood that I don't really feel works for The Maccabees. The echo on the vocals is a little weak and as an opening track it really does nothing for me.
It builds slowly into the album and is followed by "Child". This is another slower number with a very low beat and a quieter musical element that really takes its lead from "Given To The Wild". The trakc is very slow and structured but it just seems to lack the bands trademark spark. The vocals are very slow and feel quite forced. The pace picks up slightly with "Feel To Follow", but it still has quite a slow beat and continues with the atmospheric musical accompaniment. There are slight glimpses of the earlier Maccabees in the chorus but it just isn't quite enough.
Just as I felt it was about to really take off, things slow down again and it's this aspect of the bands newer material that just doesn't really work for me. Whilst the albums fourth track "Ayla" is still quite slow it does have a more energetic feel to it. Once the vocals kick in the pace lifts slightly and this is what I feel The Maccabees are really good at. The album to this point has been nothing special, but it starts to sound more like the album I was expecting with "Ayla".
That sound is lost on "Glimmer", which brings back the more atmospheric sound that the start of the album was really moving towards. Even the vocals sound totally different to how I expected and by the 5th track on the album I'm finding it quite hard to recommend it. The album then moves on to "Forever I've Known" and as it builds into the vocals it is musically quite a quiet and slow track again. The vocals come in and the pace stays quite slow and the tempo very low. It's a track that seems to keep building from the start but never really goes anywhere. As you keep expecting it to really get going it just seems to meander on, which again doesn't really work for me.
The volume is raised slightly with the slightly more upfront "Heave" but the pace of the album still seems to be stuck in first gear. A lot has been made about the more mature sound of The Maccabees, but I think they've really lost the appeal their early material had with this slower, more mature approach. In fact it takes to the albums 8th track and the first single before I really found a track that I liked. This sounds like the more upbeat and Indie pop friendly Maccabees that looked destined for great things in 2007.
It has a decent beat with a good tempo and catchy lyrics that really work. From the guitar intro to the introduction of the vocals and then the drums it is perhaps the direction I had hoped The Maccabees were heading. It does have its slower moments but the quality of the music and the stronger vocals really make this the track the rest of the album needed to be. It's a shame because it's a sound that continues into "Went Away". It still has the atmospheric pitch of the earlier tracks, but the faster paced sections really sound quite good. the problem for me is how late in the album this all begins.
The album then slows right down again with "Go" and the momentum that the previous two tracks had begun to generate was quickly lost. It's far too slow with a very quiet vocal and a meandering guitar riff that just fails to really get started. It's fair to say that the last three tracks on the album continue this trend with "Unknow", "Slowly One" and "Grew Up At Midnight" all sounding quite similar and leading the album to a very uninspiring climax.
I had real high hopes for the 3rd album from The Maccabees. I had hoped that the direction they began to take with the second album would have passed and a return to the debut albums style would be evident. Sadly that doesn't seem to be the case and instead they've moved to what many are describing as a more mature sound, but it's a sound that I don't think really suits them.
Having loved the debut album its tinged with sadness that I write this review as instead of having three albums I love, I'm indifferent to two of the bands 3 albums and that's the reason why I really can't recommend Given To The Wild, it's a shame as I wanted to like it, but after many listens it just isn't happening and there are still really only two tracks I can hand on heart say I like. I can see why new fans of the band might like the album, but given where the band have come from I feel this is a really disappointing release.
The album is currently available for £7.99 on amazon
Summary: Not as good as it could have been