[sic] Magazine

The Maccabees – Wall Of Arms

‘Wall of Arms’ could be a crafty little metaphor to describe the grand, teenage crowds that turn out every night to one of The Maccabees’ shows. Be this premonition true or not, the band are riding on a wave of youthful energy, completely buzzing. So it seems like an inappropriate time to stop, even if indie music as a genre is on its last legs. And anyway, The Maccabees were always a little bit more than a pigeonholed indie band from Brighton/London. Ultimately, now is not the time to grow up, to release that career-defining album. Orlando Weeks may have been worshipping The National and calming down a little with baths and scented candles, but he’s still fully aware that there’s still some momentum to use up.

The signature high-pitched riffs, pumped up energy as well as Weeks’ intelligent lyrics all remain, carried over from ‘Colour It In’ and recycled into ‘Wall Of Arms’, an album with better production and a whole lot more awareness of its intentions. The success of ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ seems to have led The Maccabees onto a winning formula of sounding ever so slightly sweet and heartfelt, more so with each song they write. But quite cleverly, they manage to switch between song structures, reciprocating a twee love song into a full-blown, shout-out-loud anthem in a matter of seconds (see ‘Seventeen Hands’ as a prime example).

It may go completely unnoticed but deep down, ‘Wall Of Arms’ comes across as one of the most carefully crafted albums to be released for some time. For its genre in particular, think ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ with its refined but anthemic approach to songwriting and recording. The capabilities of this sophomore album are as never-ending as its counterparts, with the likes of the subdued but raucous ‘No Kind Words’ and the mind-blowing ‘One Hand Holding’ possessed with such infectiousness that each could become a festival favourite, a cult classic, a life-affirming 21st century classic. I’m not even joking, if enough people catch onto this, it could blow a hole in the wall.

Over time, ‘Wall of Arms’ exposes itself as more than just a careful blend of soft-cheeked romantic devotions with obnoxious arm-in-air chants. The consciously new lyrical approach from Weeks, incorporating the repetition and honesty of Matt Berninger’s own style, makes for the most free-thinking record of their short career so far. But you sense more. Onwards and upwards they’ll go, tainted but boosted by more experience and even more ambition.