The Maccabees emerged amidst a wave of London based bands such as Larrikin Love, Mystery Jets, Good Shoes and Jamie T. All had successful debut albums with The Maccabees effort ‘Colour It In’ an unpolished gem of heart bursting pop floor fillers and romantic, introspective interludes. In the time between releasing ‘Colour It In’, until now the eve of their second LP ‘Wall Of Arms’ the Brighton/ London five piece have seen the friends they emerge with suffer mixed fates. Larrikin Love and Good Shoes have slipped away into the indie abyss whilst Mystery Jets and Jamie T have morphed and evolved becoming bigger and stronger with each incarnation. It is with focus on the latter then that The Maccabees emerge with this their follow up LP, the album of their lives.
Immediately it is clear that the band have developed. Whereas singer Orlando Weeks always had a rich and passionate voice, it was sitting atop a well worn series of Gang Of Four chords and XTC angular riffs. This sound treated them well first time out but a repeat performance would have proved stale. Instead producer Markus Dravs (Bjork, Arcade Fire) has been roped in and has brought his epic ‘Neon Bible’ manning skills to the table. As a result the instrumentation sounds less rushed, a more assured and confident style which builds to a crescendo is used throughout the albums duration.
As the brass band stand to ceremony at the end of ‘Love You Better’ it soon becomes clear that ‘Wall Of Arms’ is the sound of a band taking huge strides forward. Similarly bombastic are the stabbing and urgent ‘One Hand Holding’ and the communal beauty of ‘Can You Give It’, chances are you have already heard ‘No Kind Words’ so will know of its National-esque dark and brooding quality. Often a band who wants to race you to the finish line this album sees The Maccabees handling their slower moments with aplomb too- ‘Young Lions’ and ‘Bag Of Bones’ tap into the innate beauty of Weeks song writing and expose a brittle and tender heart. Throughout 'Wall Of Arms' the presiding feeling is that of a band who have made a deeply personal record, a piece of work for themselves- that honesty shines through and is both intensely charming and admirable.
Too long overlooked as ‘another indie band’ 'Wall Of Arms’ is the moment The Maccabees reach self-realisation. This is the sound of burgeoning romance, unrequited love, chest beating passion and tranquil, all encompassing warmth. Sure to be one of the years finest releases.