In light of The Edge’s Top 10 Albums of 2012 I would like to take this opportunity to tell you why The Maccabees’ Given To The Wild is a worthy contender for the top spot. So here is my belated review. Beware the bias and enjoy.
Given To The Wild is the beautifully crafted third studio album from The Maccabees. Imagine the archetypical notion of ‘the album, listening to it from start to finish, a complete entity. Actually sitting down and putting on an album has a whole different notion these days, with albums instead being made up of an array of singles, with individual songs so easily accessible. Given To The Wild is a prime example of the former. I feel I can put the album on, without iTunes shuffle, and enjoy every second. For example the ‘Given To The Wild (intro)’ that leads straight into ‘Child’ demonstrates how seamless this is. This is also evident throughout the rest of the album with tracks leading into one another on multiple occasions. A tough task for album that wants to include variety and continuity alongside one another. The Maccabees have it down to a tee with this (close to) perfect album.
‘Child’ is essentially the first track of the album. It starts with the gentle guitar that we have been used to in the intro before the still gentle drum beat shortly follows. Orlando Weeks’ echoing vocals are next and those of you who have been fans of The Maccabees since the ‘Latchmere’ days will notice the maturity and improvement in his voice. Far away from the stammering, London, indie vocals present in their early music; we have a mature and quite frankly beautiful vocal part courtesy of Orlando, retaining his character and charm. ‘Feel to Follow’, the second single released from the album, continues with the gentle tone. Twanging guitar riffs courtesy of Felix White add excitement to the track as the pace builds towards the end.
My favourite track on the album, and also a strong contender for best song of 2012 is ‘Ayla’. Their fourth and latest single since the album’s release back in March. It is such a perfect song it’s hard to put into words. I think what makes it stand out for me, as a die-hard The Maccabees fan, is the glistening piano throughout. It keeps momentum and enhances all the other musical elements in the track. The album progresses through tracks such as ‘Forever I’ve Known’, a sweet, pain filled track where Orlando’s soft vocals and lyrics take centre stage, before reaching the upbeat first single ‘Pelican’. The one that most people will recognise from it’s airtime on radio. Surprisingly it isn’t one of my favourite tracks but it makes the progression from Wall of Arms to Given To The Wild easier on the ears with its upbeat tempo sounding more like the former than other album tracks. Third single ‘Went Away’ is next, another big hitter on the album.
As the album comes to its close, The Maccabees really demonstrate how much they have experimented with new territories on this record. ‘Unknown’ is weird and wonderful. As Orlando sings “it holds you like a tropical disease.” Moving through ‘Slowly One’ a sweet, tender number that leads perfectly into ‘Grew Up At Midnight’. The spectacular finale. Often finishing their live sets as well. The whole circle of life notion that runs through the record could be seen as a banal lyrical choice but I can see how is is so apt to The Maccabees journey to Given To The Wild. As it says in ‘Go,’ “we’ll grow out when it’s time / And the skins we’ve known no longer fit us” for me represents the maturity and progression from Colour It In and Wall Of Arms to this rounded, beautifully crafted third record. For me, a perfect album.