The Maccabees – Into The Wild
“Guitar music is dead” is a phrase banded around with such frequence that it’s starting to become as synonymous with indie music as phrases like “the next Oasis”, but as with the example phrase given, it’s simply not the case.
The Maccabees, part of the indie pop scene that formed in England in the middle of the noughties alongside The Cribs, The Arctic Monkeys, The Rakes, Mystery Jets et al, successfully reignited British guitar music after years of bleak repression (there is honestly no other way of describing Nu-Metal).
Much has changed since those heady days though, and as the bands have grown up, their music consequently has too.
Each ring of the ladder that is The Maccabees’ fledgling discography shows a distinct sense of maturing, ensuring they set their stall out as leaders rather than followers, but it’s Into the Wild which shows the most genuine and forthright understanding of the need to adapt and evolve.
It’s been a whole three years since Wall of Arms and this gap in time goes someway to explaining the undeniably extensive shift of style. Where was once the sprightly bouncy pop of Latchmere and X-Ray there is now a grandiose and epic feeling, evident in the opening title track which wouldn’t feel out of place as an intro to a film
Orlando wasn’t misleading when he described the album as having a ‘sound-track quality’ and it’s incredibly obvious that the layers have become deeper and more complex, with second track Child offering a ever-so-slightly reggae slant on things, but the White brothers’ typically effervescent guitar work ensuring it’s very much a song that bears the band’s hallmark. Next up is Feel to Follow, a song that seems destined to rank alongside some of The Maccabees’ finest work. The songs escalates into a skyscraper of a song built upon layer on layer of effects, signalling a firm step away from the usual jingle jangle sound the band have become known for.
Pelican is a dead cert for being one of the album’s singles, with a stabby guitar riff that doesn’t sit a million miles away from X-Ray, with Orlando in an insightful mood with “So soon we’re too old to carry, we knew we only had a little while”.
Despite the fact that there are parts of the album that are irresistibly good, and moments that genuinely do scale the heights of the previous two albums, the grandiose nature of it does mean that there other moments that have a tendency to be forgettable. The melancholy efforts of Glimmer and Heave certainly do fit in with the soundscape of the album, but on their own they hardly stand out, and although Slowly One manages to pick things up in a bit of the form of some quite frankly terrifying guitar the album draws out to quite an anti-climatic ending, saved slightly by the building crescendo of the final track Grew Up at Midnight. In maturing their own style the band have unfortunately lost some of their gusto and sense of fun. But hey, that’s all part of growing up, isn’t it?