‘Given To The Wild’ (Fiction)
Coming of age is both a wonderful and a terrifying thing, and there are few bands that understand this dichotomy as well as The Maccabees. Wide of eye and big of heart, the quintet suspect the only way to get through the ultimate futility of it all is to cling to those beside you and hold on tight; to fi nd your wall of arms and embrace what really matters, since, as we’re repeatedly told throughout ‘Given To The Wild’, nothing lasts forever. But, where the band have previously shrouded their preoccupations in spritely melodies and festival-baiting choruses, ‘Given To The Wild’ allows itself to be a far more intimate, intricate being altogether. It may be a cliché to brand an album with the sweeping stamp of maturity, but this is a record that is, in its own way, steeped in it. From the doe-eyed toothpaste kisses of their debut, to the impassioned call to arms of their second, to the circumspection apparent here; The Maccabees may not consciously have “grown up” as such, but they’re most certainly preoccupied with growing older.
Lead single ‘Pelican’, a tautly-energised mass of stabbing guitars and soaring crescendos (and easily the most melodically upbeat track of the lot), sets the precedent – “So soon we’re too old to carry/We knew we only had a little while,” Orlando sings before the resigned pay-off “Before you know it, pushing up the daisies”. Then there’s ridiculously gorgeous centrepiece ‘Forever I’ve Known’, that begins on atmospheric guitar bends, creeps around Orlando’s gentle vocal (“I know nothing stays forever… But couldn’t we still try?”) and then erupts into a charge of visceral drums and tightly-wound guitar parts, clearly not ready to give up the fi ght just yet. ‘Child’ is all relaxed, low-slung basslines, subtle brass interjections and slow-building melodies, whilst ‘Feel To Follow’ comes in on tense vocals and a bare drumbeat before gradually swelling into an epic climax and ‘Glimmer’ ripples along like a delicate, all-enveloping, dream.
From start to finish, ‘Given To The Wild’ is a truly wonderful record. Impressively diverse but united by a strain of quintessentially Maccabeean hopeless hopefulness, it’s an outpouring of both technical brilliance and affective emotion that thrives in its sheer humanity. “We grew up at midnight/We were only kids then,” intones the album’s closing track, and whilst The Maccabees certainly aren’t kids any more, at least they’re inviting us to walk the final yards of youth with them.