Given to the Wild
They still boast the poshest-sounding line-up in the indie-pop realm, but there’s not a great deal more tethering Orlando, Felix, Sam, Hugo and Rupert to their past. Quite why they decided to name themselves after an army of dissident soldiers who attempted to take control of Judea in the second century BC is a mystery. Yet The Maccabees have been increasingly edging away from the sparky but unchallenging indie power pop that initially attracted the attention of both Fierce Panda and Steve Lamacq.
If their debut album Colour it In revealed them as kindred spirits of Maxïmo Park (well, they were young) and their 2009 follow-up Wall of Arms as having bent an ear to Arcade Fire and been totally smitten, their third sees The Maccabees if not exactly hurling themselves on the pyre of bonkers adventurism (as the title might suggest) then at least raking the cinders of intelligent art-pop with the intent of starting a blaze of fresh ambition. The self-titled intro is a brief, alluringly open-ended blend of shimmering guitars and moody synths that promises much – a promise delivered by the muscular and panoramic ‘Unknown’ and the frost-dusted beauty of ‘Slowly One’.Tasteful brass and sumptuous strings abound, although the latter’s arrangements default to Coldplay, with ‘Glimmer’ alone likely to have Chris Martin checking the locks on their studio door.
It sounds as though the band have been spending their off-duty hours listening to Kate Bush, Talk Talk, The Blue Nile, Bon Iver and Bowie, as well as their beloved U2 (man, these guys are besotted). ‘Mature’ is a word more properly used of cheddar and children, but this lustrous, grand-scale record is very grown-up indeed.