14 February 2012
listen: given to the wild
Andrew Reinholds discusses the somewhat mixed reviews behind the Maccabees ambitious third album release.
The UK music press is notorious for hyping the next big thing (particularly if they happen to be English) only to tear them to shreds at the drop of a hat. Imagine being The Maccabees then, who have just released their ambitious third album ‘Given to the Wild’, to reviews ranging from exultant hyperbole to dismissive disdain.
So why the criticism?
The Maccabees are one of a number of UK indie rock bands such as The Vaccines and Bombay Bicycle Club who, in the best traditions of The Libertines and Bloc Party, are looking beyond the small stages and low roofed venues they currently play to the bigger, brighter stadium lights and the riches that wait.
The result is an album that for many lacks the soul and urgency of previous efforts, and has become just another faceless set of songs that roll out a tried and tested formula perfected by the likes of Coldplay and U2 that never fail to offend or challenge the listener. Think “measured”, “mature”, “melodic” and “sophisticated”.
And with a bunch of names like Orlando, Hugo, Felix, Rupert and Sam, there is no denying that The Maccabees perfectly fit the stereotype of well educated, serious young men sitting around drinking red wine and dissecting the song writing talents of Ray Davies versus Paul McCartney.
On the other side of the fence, is the argument that ‘Given to the Wild’ represents a watershed record for a talented group of young musicians with the ability to be the next Elbow – everyone’s favourite underachievers who after years of toil finally hit the jackpot with the excellent ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ without once ever having to compromise their principles.
So is this the record that will catapult The Maccabees onto the main stages of the Northern Hemisphere’s festival circuits this summer? One would have to say most probably. Whether or not they are able to take the next step remains to be seen – it seems like only yesterday I watched a relatively unknown Coldplay walk play an early afternoon slot in front of a sceptical BDO crowd one sunny Auckland afternoon. The rest is of course history…