Review of Maccabees album 'Wall Of Arms' released through Fiction.
Two years ago, they had a brush with commercial success with their upbeat, sugary indie-kid debut, Colour Me In. Undeservingly, it received only a lukewarm reception from the music press and now Brighton based The Maccabees return with their second album Wall Of Arms, how will it go down?
The new album is a complete departure from the cheery, youthful songs of its predecessor. Lyrically, the tracks have a dark cynicism and Orlando Weeks' vocals reflect that, they are delivered with deftness and emotion.
The album opens with the near-perfect Love You Better, a beautiful anguished song that sees Weeks singing with emotion and sincerity; it definitely has the immediate impact required by a lead single. The angst driven No Kind Words was previously given away as a free download. It sees the familiar format of a slow build to a frenetic pace with relentless drums and some great grungy riffs. And maybe Weeks is nodding to the critics when he sings 'If you have no kind words to say, you should say nothing more at all' but he has nothing to prove, the album speaks for itself.
The songs build atmospheric tension throughout and the poetic lyrics add real depth. On the title track Wall Of Arms, Weeks sings 'There's no God above me, no hell below me, no purgatory, there's only me who can forgive me'. Produced by Markus Dravs (Coldplay and Arcade Fire), there is a definite Arcade Fire influence on a number of tracks, particularly Love You Better and Can You Give It. But the album as a whole is a much more cohesive, well rounded effort than their debut.
Although it will satisfy on the first listen, Wall Of Arms delivers more and more with each play. It is cleverly crafted pop masterpiece and if this is an example of the band's new direction, we'll be watching with anticipation to see where they go next.
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