The Maccabees 2015 studio photo_credit Pooneh Ghana_web res

Maccabees – Marks to Prove It

Three years on from the acclaimed Given to the Wild, Maccabees are back with Marks to Prove It, an album drawing equally from the youthful charm of their early work and the grand atmosphere of its immediate predecessor.

We’re thrown immediately into the action with the album opener ‘Marks to Prove It’, a raging sonic beast restrained only by Orlando Weeks’ voice. One of the first things you’ll notice is exactly how much it sounds like the upstart indie rock anthems like ‘Latchmere’, which catapulted them onto the scene back in 2007.

It’s an odd decision, given the band’s darker, more cinematic trajectory since. The band have justified their choice in interviews, noting a strong desire not to make “Given to the Wild, Part 2”, despite it being what the critics, or even the fans, might desire.

From the opener, we move on to the subdued yet driving ‘Kamakura’, passing through the anxious notes of ‘Ribbon Road’, then twisting and turning through Radiohead by-product ‘Spit it Out’. And the album continues in much the same way.

The biggest problem with Marks to Prove It is that it too much resembles a downward slope. By delivering its best-known track up front, it’s a little bit too easy to dismiss the rest as filler, and despite the cathartic hope of closer ‘Dawn Chorus’, the album rather fizzles out because of it. But despite this, the album doesn’t feel like a grind.

Marks to Prove It is the story of a night out in London’s streets, and the album’s sonic profile is intimately tied to that concept. The songs are based on passing snapshots; things seen and heard from the citizens of the capital; the Maccabees’ home. It’s as good a concept as any, more in line with the boyish fascinations of the band’s youth rather than the more mature lyrical themes they’ve been abstracting for the past few years.

Marks to Prove It is both less grand and more accomplished than its predecessor, and signals a commitment to making intimate music and an admirable willingness to evolve.

Marks to Prove It is released on July 31st.

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