Review Summary: Soothing the January blues…
The Maccabees 3rd LP features an album cover that holds a subtle but succinct hint at what Given To The Wild
has to offer to those bored with the scant January music release schedule, should they invest the time. It’s a warm, bright scenic image spiced up by flames pouring into the fore; on the brink of a dominating eruption that threatens to take over the beauty at any moment. Given To The Wild
lays out something conceptually and structurally similar across its value-for-money, 5 minutes short of an hour runtime – an album that glistens with a fresh, organic beauty but constantly threatens to run wild as guitars begin to strum faster, drums are thrashed with greater vigour and the intricate melodies sprint towards a frenetic and thrilling conclusion.
That’s what makes Given To The Wild
one of 2012 first great LP’s. It’s a carefully constructed, lush album; refined and restrained but in a refreshing and compositionally mature fashion. As the opening title track’s mellow tones set the scene and effortlessly segue into ‘Child’, one hears a band who are firmly in control of their vision and aren’t afraid to take things at a pace slower than what the charts demand. The set grows and moves organically; most tracks seem perfectly matched to their predecessor and successor, sharing guitar flickers that somehow evoke ripples of water in a serene lake, and feather-soft vocals that float above like the clouds.
But things rarely get tedious as The Maccabees have a solid formulaic knowledge in tow throughout Given To The Wild
that keeps things fluid and moving, if not hugely dynamic. That serene lake and its neighbouring clouds can soon turn into a storm – the clouds part and the heavens open as the lushness evolves into an energetic wash of sprightly guitar flickers and subtle synth-orchestra backgrounds. This not only takes place across the albums 13 tracks – as the set moves into gradually more lively cuts as time rolls on (see one of the highlights, ‘Pelican’) – but often in the course of a single song, as per the lovely ‘Forever I’ve Known’.
But whenever a storm arrives it remains firmly under control – a storm in a snow globe if you will. These lads have reached a level of maturity and their ability to slip into a comfortably handled, restrained approach is both admirable and a pleasure to behold. Having not followed The Maccabees’ career as much as would be necessary to be in a position to assess whether this is their strongest effort yet, one can unreservedly admit this, regardless: Given To The Wild
is a beautiful, capably constructed record and arguably one of 2012’s first greats.