Album Review: The Maccabees – Given To the Wild

The English band’s third studio album sees them craft en enjoyable, but slightly shallow record.

It’s been a strange few years for English band the Maccabees. Having gained a reasonable amount of press coverage for their 2007 Colour It In, and in particular the single Toothpaste Kisses, the band seemed to vanish into obscurity, quietly releasing their follow-up album Wall of Arms in 2009.

Like their debut, the record was well-received by music critics, but ultimately failed to get the same attention as Colour It In. Now three years later, the band have returned to rectify this with their latest record Given To the Wild. So let’s start off by asking the most important question: is it any good?…

… Well the short answer to this question is yes. Given To the Wild is a solid and enjoyable record to listen to, though it does have some niggling issues that stop it from being a truly great album.

The record kicks off with the two-minute track Given To the Wild (Intro), which is an instrumental track that slowly leads into the first proper song, Child. Child in many ways, exemplifies the greatest strength of the Maccabees as a band: their ability to borrow from a myriad of sources, yet they never sound as if they are trying to emulate any artist in particular.

Eagle-eyed listeners will be able to hear elements of artists as diverse as Bon Iver, Metronomy and Bloc Party all encompassed on the record. Songs such as Glimmer  and Forever I’ve Known  are two examples of the band borrowing slightly from Justin Vernon and company, while lead single Pelican allows the band to show they are more than capable of writing an engaging indie song.

The  record’s real standout track is Go, a song that almost feels like a missing cut taken from Arcade Fire’s recent album The Suburbs. This fact is not all that surprising considering the Maccabees hired Markus Dravs to produce the album. Dravs previous work includes helping to produce The Suburbs.

Despite these strengths, there is one significant issue I have with Given To the Wild: While it is certainly an enjoyable listen, it never really catches the listener’s attention fully. It has been an issue I have always had with the band’s music since I first heard them, and it is still an issue. However, to the band’s credit, they have made massive improvements in this area on Given to the Wild.

Before I present my final opinions on the record, make sure to check out the video for the single Pelican, which is posted below.

In summary, Given To the Wild is a solid, if at times uninspiring record, and it certainly isn’t the defining classic that some magazuines are describing it as. While it certainly has some fantastic and promising moments such as the single Pelican and the song Go, it never fully grabs it’s listeners attention. Hopefully, the band will continue to make further progress on their next album, so they can finally reach their full potential and release a truly great record.

Score: 7 out of 10.

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