11 Aug 2016

To have it all and still want more... In Memory of The Maccabees

Monday, 8th August 2016 will forever be known as a sad day in the music world. After 14 years, I was shocked and distraught to discover that everyone’s favourite indie rock band, The Maccabees, had announced their split. They said in a statement what an “incredibly difficult” decision it had been and that they are proud to part ways on their own terms.

After forming in 2005, the band released a few singles with their frenetic debut album ‘Colour It In’ coming two years later. It’s everything an indie debut should be: energetic, upbeat, engaging, and it’s because of this it will forever be one of my favourite albums. Orlando Weeks’ unique vocals mix well with the band’s catchy lyrics – which cover topics ranging from swimming pools ('Latchmere') to first dates and love ('About Your Dress' and 'First Love'), all of which have become indie classics along with ‘X-Ray’ and ‘Precious Time’. Other favourites of mine include ‘Bicycles’, a song purely about a trend of people buying bicycles as “the quickest route to paradise”, and the short but sweet folk-like B-side ‘The Real Thing’, in which Weeks muses how he “will wait for the real thing” in a relationship. ‘Toothpaste Kisses’, perhaps the album’s most popular and iconic track, brings sways of melancholy mixed with memories of happier days. Its simplicity and sweetness, captured in lyrics like “Stay with me, I’ll stay with you, Doin’ things that lovers do”, is the perfect way to end a great opening record.

2009 saw the release of ‘Wall of Arms’, an album that showcases not only a lyrical progression from its predecessor, but also makes use of epic production, eerie chants and the feeling that Weeks is singing like the world’s going to end tomorrow. Consisting of atmospheric, heartfelt pop songs that frequently fly off at unexpected angles, the album is a musical whirlwind of the best kind. My personal favourite ‘Can You Give It’ is a bop and a half with its massive, explosive chorus and tropical guitar riffs, which never fail to put me in the best of moods. ‘Seventeen Hands’ begins with tender vocals over tingly guitars and ends in a flurry of screams and drum rolls. And better still, it does this while containing enough hooks to fill the entire album. Overall, ‘Wall of Arms’ is the meticulously evolved sound of a band set to breathe life into the British indie scene.

In 2012, the band’s third album arrived – ‘Given to the Wild’, which went on to earn widespread acclaim and a Mercury Prize nomination. It’s a record completely worlds away from their previous work, with fuller sounding songs and slick production showing clearly how the band progressed in just five years since their debut. It’s an album that’s impossible not to fall head over heels in love with, so much so that there isn’t a single song on it that I don’t adore. ‘Given to the Wild’ is packed with an assortment of styles and tempos, from festival ready tracks like ‘Pelican’, full of wild guitars and glorious harmonies, to more calming and ethereal songs such as ‘Child’. Even the album closer ‘Grew Up At Midnight’ stands out from the crowd with a crescendo so momentous it builds until the very last second. As an entity, ‘Given to the Wild’ is the presentation of a mature and confident band with their footing clearly found in the music game.

The fourth and final Maccabees album to see the light of day was released last year. Titled ‘Marks to Prove It’, it’s arguably their most concise and assured release to date, with lyrics stronger than ever, pristine vocals and even elements of sizzling brass worked in too. From the strong opening title track follow the smooth riffs of ‘Kamakura’ and ‘Spit it Out’, with ‘Pioneering Systems’ and ‘Dawn Chorus’ dreamily closing a true masterpiece. ‘Marks to Prove It’ will always be an album to showcase just how godlike brilliant The Maccabees were, and undoubtable proof that as they sadly bow out, they're truly at their self-described creative peak.

Read the band's full statement below.

Words: Jess Fleming & Caroline Oestergaard