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The Maccabees – Marks to Prove It | Album Review

The Maccabees lastest album, Marks to Prove It, might just be their best one yet.

Source: Album Artwork

Source: Album Artwork

The prospect that The Maccabees could become another formulaic, forgettable indie outfit of the mid-noughties was very real at the release of their debut. Colour It In’s eager-to-please songs were conventionally alternative, a contradiction that other lesser bands wouldn’t recover from. The group’s next two records signalled a welcome move away from predictability – they were much more inquisitive, mature, and free. Although Wall of Arms and Given to the Wild came close, success has finally found them in the shape of Marks to Prove It. The Maccabees’ latest release is as adventurous as it is vulnerable, braving London in search of stories to tell. These tales of change are beautifully executed with the unique sincerity of an album recorded at home. It’s their best by far, and an absolute joy to be immersed in.

The titular track is the most expansive. A vibrant, weighty opener complete with thunderous drumming, it rolls restlessly. It has hauntingly theatrical moments, iterating that your expectations are to be inverted. ‘Kamakura‘ and ‘Spit it Out‘ are equally as energised, but benefit from their gentle beginnings. At first adorned by pretty harmonies, they grow into their cathartic choruses. Each tracks knows just when build and when to fade, proving that The Maccabees have mastered their craft and appreciate the beauty of subtly.

Sometimes that beautiful simplicity takes centre-stage, like on the the piano-led ‘Silence‘, sang by guitarist Hugo White, whose delicate vocals complement the music’s fragility. Speaking of the uncertainty of silence, it’s a lyrical triumph. Emotive sentiments like this run through the record, notably in ‘Slow Sun‘ where the honesty is engaging. It reaches its peak of lyrical brilliance, however, in ‘WW1 Portraits‘, which is laden with inspired comparisons.

The Maccabees admitted that finishing Marks to Prove It was a struggle, and it shows. At times the album is strained and verges on desperation. Although accomplished on many levels, it habitually throws up uncertainty. But this only adds to the album’s artistry. There’s something endearing about being exposed to musicians’ reality even when they are telling the story of someone else.

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