The Maccabees
Given to the Wild


3.0
good

Review

by Ali CONTRIBUTOR (130 Reviews)
January 13th, 2012 | 24 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An album that's a lot easier to admire than it is to love.

It's difficult to explain to outsiders, but here in the UK we have fierce pride in our country's musical heritage which has led to an unyielding affinity to our own bands, especially those of a guitar wielding variety. From this derives our neigh on obsessive urge to uncover the next great British guitar band, and it's for that reason that when one does step to the fore we dose ourselves in satisfaction more than perhaps any other nation. Given To The Wild is scripted as the record which will elevate it's creators, Brighton five piece The Maccabees to such lofty heights. According to some, it will gain them acclaim worldwide from fans and critics alike, reinstating our nation's place at the top of the musical tree and will see them ride on a wave of commercial success currently unprecedented for a band of their ilk.

In fairness, they seem to have gotten the second half of that prediction spot on. At the time of writing, this record is on course to hit the top of the UK's album chart, usually the unshakable fortress of Adele, and a position that has only been occupied by home grown guitar groups for four weeks in the past year (and one of those as Coldplay!). It's not hard to see the album's appeal either, with huge cinematic soundscapes marking a radical departure from the their quirky beginnings and seeing them adopt a level of ambition practically unforeseeable a short while ago. It's that ambition which ultimately proves to be both the record's making and it's downfall, as it sets the Maccabees well apart from their wealth of contemporaries yet all too often gives the impression of a band simply trying too hard to make it's mark.

The shift in approach that they've taken is evident as early as the introductory title track, which presents a band unrecognisable to that which made Colour It In and Wall Of Arms, both of which had more than a whiff of landfill about them. With a warm bed of synths and a new sense of restraint, it's immediately obvious that Given To The Wild is a completely different beast, and that promise is carefully upheld throughout the album's duration. These songs are subtle, calculated and at times epic in their scope, but more often than not they seem to fall short of their intended impact. The likes of 'Ayala,' 'Heave' and 'Unknow' are all wrapped in vast swathes of potential, and although all enjoyable they never really come close to truly fulfilling it. Sadly, the only track which really does this new sound justice is 'Forever I've Known,' which acts as the record's centerpiece and releases much of it's tension with a splendid swooning riff, but too much of what surrounds it simply drifts over ones head without making all that much of an impression.

Throughout all of this Orlando Weeks is tasked with carrying the load as frontman, a roll that he hasn't the presence to fill, and as such never seems entirely comfortable in. It's telling that by far his most convincing performance comes on 'Pelican,' the only perennially upbeat song and the only one here which wouldn't seem comically out of place on either of their first two records. For what it's worth, 'Pelican' is another excellent individual moment, casting the band in their element and seeing them deliver a song with more accessibility and arguably substance than anything they've yet come out with.

Unfortunately, though, emblems of brilliance such as that and 'Forever I've Known' just aren't enough to carry a record which wants to be so much more than it fundamentally is. It's certainly one with plenty of positive traits, and hints that The Maccabees could well be capable of making a classic some day in the future, but regretfully Given To The Wild just doesn't have enough internal substance to be donned with that title. Credit where it's due - this is a huge leap forward for the band, with that future interest alone proving how far they've come. It's also clearly a project that they've invested a lot of time in, but while that dedication should be applauded this is ultimately the type of record that one can waste hours over trying to love when in reality there's not a lot to justify such endeavor.



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user ratings (59)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
Major Tom CONTRIBUTOR (4)
Soothing the January blues…...


Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 12th 2012


7357 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Also posted at http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/

Out now in the Uk.

This is a strange one. It's pretty close to being a 3.5 for me and I think that there will be people here that will like this a lot, but as much as I want to be I'm not one of them.

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
January 12th 2012


4507 Comments


Sounds interesting

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2012


6487 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I haven't heard any of their previous albums, but listening now to Given To The Wild. I really like it, will probably end up as a 3.5 or maybe higher.

But nice job as usual, Ali!

For the ones interested, the album is streaming here:
http://www.electricmariachi.com/album-streams/indierock/the-maccabees-%E2%80%93-given-to-the-wild

Digging: Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2012


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn... just posted mine for this too haha.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
January 13th 2012


31350 Comments


It's difficult to explain to outsiders, but here in the UK we have fierce pride in our country's musical heritage which has led to an unyielding affinity to our own bands, especially those of a guitar wielding variety.


Obviously I'm not from the UK but I know what you mean, because this extends to electronic music as well

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2012


6487 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think that holds true for most countries, though. But because a lot of bands who are enjoying success nationwide, don't break through internationally, people in other countries don't see it.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2012


7357 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah you're probably right, but here I think we have this almost unhealthy obsession with "guitar music" which is probably why we're better known than most for hyping up our own bands.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2012


6487 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I actually really hope 2012 will be a return to form for "pure guitar music" out of the UK, because in recent years, I'm fed up with all this 80's synthesizer crap that seems to have become so popular in Britain...

AlecBaldwin
January 13th 2012


147 Comments


@clercqie

80s synthesizer crap isn't that popular in Britain, especially compared to guitar-music, at least that
I'm aware of.

Oddly enough, I get the impression that it's waaaay more popular across the Pond haha.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2012


7357 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

There's certainly been a big 80's revival over the past few years, and an awful lot of what you'd call guitar bands have started using synths to adapt to the times, but that trend does seem to be waning out at the moment. As long as there's great music, I'm not really fussed which direction bands take.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2012


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

We just need another Smiths to come along haha. They're almost local to me too - i can identify with that English music pride.

Adabelle
January 13th 2012


4258 Comments


Review is up to your usual high standards. You're probably the only reviewer whose reviews I read knowing I probably won't end up listening to the album haha

Adabelle
January 13th 2012


4258 Comments


And that isn't a criticism btw.

Fugue
January 13th 2012


7353 Comments


Cool review Ali, I've listened twice now and I have a feeling I like the album more than you do. Unknow is honestly so good.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2012


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Okay, I'm a long term fan of the band so I'm going to jump in to the stream (attempts at finding a link to download have been met with failure).

Quick question though: The Maccabees really seemed to show this huge ambitious spark towards the end of Wall of Arms, is there anything to match that here?

Fugue
January 13th 2012


7353 Comments


Yes.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2012


7357 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks guys

StrangerofSorts: This record as a whole is by far and away the most ambitious thing they've ever done, way more so than anything on the previous two.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2012


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Just nearing the end of my first listen, some thoughts:

More ambitious than this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbALYQt60B8
I think not!

He's got a lot better at singing.

This is kind of bland, but still good.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2012


7357 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"More ambitious than this?"

Certainly. Did you leave the room when 'Forever I've Known' came on?!

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2012


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

No.



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