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Album Review: The Maccabees – Marks To Prove It

Orlando Weeks – vocals.

Hugo White – guitars

Felix White – guitars, backing vocals

Rupert Jarvis – bass

Sam Doyle – drums

Will White – keyboards and samplers

The Maccabees exploded onto the UK indie scene almost a decade ago with an album extolling the charms of a South West London swimming pool and its wave machine called Latchmere.

Now, nine and a half years later the band are still seeking inspiration from their urban surroundings but have moved their focus a few miles east to the grittier surroundings of the Elephant and Castle.

Marks to Prove It, which has been 3 years in the making, is an altogether more mature and raw album that showcases the sounds of urban life with the underlying menace of violence never far from the surface!

With a total of 11 songs lasting over 41 minutes tell of a series of cautionary tales – a story that requires listening to in the carefully prescribed order.

Opening with title track and single Marks To Prove It, this is a clear statement of how far the band have come and exudes the energy and fun of their early days.

The gently opening Kamakura, which follows on nicely from the previous album Given to the Wild , succumbs to a cacophony of bass and atmospheric guitars, with an explosive chorus that depicts the experience of riding the 3am night-bus.

Ribbon Road too, has slow-building power , starting with an eerie silence that develops to showcase Orlando Weeks’ soaring and powerful voice.

Spit It Out is a stand out track. At five minutes long it opens with a combination of haunting vocals and keyboards that are soon overtaken by drums and guitars that shape of the song and reveal a heavier and angrier side to The Maccabees.

Marks To Prove It, Kamakura and Spit It Out form the A side of the album; the following second half of the album, comprised of softer-edged tracks backed by brass and saxophone, sadly have few defining moments with the tracks tending to blur into one

Silence – a semi acoustic rendition marks the change of mood and begins a more reflective and melancholy phase of the album.

River Song, spills over into the lamenting tones of the blues guitar led Slow Sun, followed by Dawn Chorus which features a mix of ardent brass set against delicate vocals

WWI Portraits is an exception to the torpor of the second half of the album – displaying a rousing guitar line and depicting a sense of urgency and a welcome return to a more upbeat delivery.

The Maccabees are now very much an album band and this latest album an accumulation of all the things that we enjoy from them. The Maccabees have condensed and simplified what they do best but refreshingly they are not afraid to be a bit raw and spiky – the result is a surprisingly solid, satisfying and beautifully crafted piece of work  but on the journey there are both moments of mesmerising brilliance and also some lulls.  

Written By: Lindsy Stott

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