Review: The Maccabees – Marks To Prove It

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The band prove why they've endured almost ten years in the music industry with an intelligent, cohesive fourth record.

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Marks To Prove It is the fourth album from indie rock band The Maccabees. Now nearing their 30s, they’ve come a long way since their debut record Colour It In was released in 2007 to critical acclaim. Over the past eight years the band’s music evolved considerably. Their previous release, 2012’s Given To The Wild, started the move away from the sunshine laced indie-pop the band produced in their first two records, but Marks To Prove It put any lingering remnants in a body bag. However this development isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Too often fans criticise a band for not “sticking to their roots”, but when musicians stick to what they know all they end up with is a stagnant second record, maybe a third if the band or artist is lucky, and gives them no longevity. The Maccabees have succeeded in developing their sound from luminous indie pop hits to dark, crunchy anthems in the course of four albums, and although fans may mourn for the days of ‘Toothpaste Kisses’, their newest release shouldn’t be disregarded for being different.

The cacophonous opening of title track ‘Marks To Prove It’ is four minutes of concentrated, uproarious chaos, and it’s excellent. Wild guitar riffs leap in and out of vocal lines accompanied by jolting changes in tempo and intelligent ebbs and flows in instrumentation.

The rest of Marks To Prove It follows cohesively, with real thought having been put into the pace and construction of the album. The waltzing ‘River Song’ acts as a bridge midway through the record, ‘Something Like Happiness’ picks the energy up when it starts to dip two thirds through and ‘Dawn Chorus’ gives the album closure at the end. There’s no filler or blending of one track into the next, it’s succinct, intellectual song writing.

The record is expertly produced, laden with lavish soundscapes adorned with synthesised guitars and elegant brass arrangements. There’s more focus on the sound as a whole, and how each instrumental part interacts with each other, than the band’s other records. With jittering synthesisers and ethereal distortion, it’s reminiscent of Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs only with twice the bite, and an added Latin trumpet (in album closer ‘Dawn Chorus’).

The Maccabees have succeeded in producing a vibrant, unified fourth record. Their endurance in the music industry could have been put down to luck, but Marks To Prove It demonstrates why they’ve been successful over almost ten years; because they’re phenomenal composers.

Marks to Prove It is out now via Fiction Records.

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Snack queen and entertainment journalist. Records Editor 2014-2015 & News Editor 2013-2014 for The Edge.

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