mon 18/12/2017

CD: The Maccabees - Marks to Prove It | reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Maccabees - Marks to Prove It

CD: The Maccabees - Marks to Prove It

The difficult fourth album from London indie stalwarts

Seriously weird: The Maccabees

That I’ve tended to lump The Maccabees in with a certain brand of mid-Noughties landfill lad-rock is my problem, not theirs; not least because the Londoners’ ambitions on their latest album are pitched more at cinéma vérité than Kasabian. The band’s self-professed “difficult” fourth album, Marks to Prove It, takes its inspiration from the nightlife of the inner city – and it’s certainly sonically ambitious, if sometimes a bit joyless in its execution.

London and guitar bands go hand in hand, but the things that differentiate The Maccabees from their brethren are apparent right from the start here. Marks to Prove It is the sound of a band celebrating its weirdness. There’s frontman Orlando Weeks’ voice, of course: a mangled, otherworldly wail it’s difficult to like yet impossible to ignore; but more subtle are the tempo shifts and odd key choices, and the fact that the album opener and title track resembles a conventional rock song before dissolving into something that could soundtrack a haunted fairground ride. “Slow Sun” uses the found sounds of the street to feed into a gorgeously cinematic whole, and the asynchronatic twinkling that punctuates “WW1 Portraits” nudges an otherwise heroic epic just over the line towards unsettling.

The difficulties come when the seriousness with which the band so obviously takes its work becomes audible. “Kamakura”, for example, conjures up nothing so vivid as the image of a melancholy seagull, filmed in black and white, scavenging from a spilled poke of chips on Brighton Beach in the rain; “River Song” sounds like a funeral march and boasts lyrics to match. Weeks, 31, contemplates mortality on an overly dramatic chorus: “You’re not getting any younger, soldier on for another year.” The sombre yet lovely “Silence”, on which guitarist Hugo White takes lead vocal duties while Weeks wails in the background, brings home what an acquired taste the latter’s voice is – but an album full of the same would just be elevator music.

Overleaf: watch the "Marks to Prove It" video


This is the sound of a band celebrating its weirdness

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