By The Maccabees
In the indie explosion of 2006, The Maccabees' debut 'Colour It In' was a glorious highlight of intelligent, frantic guitar pop amongst a rabble of mundane albums. One of the few records that managed to retain attention beyond a month or two after its release among the critics, not just on Radio One. 'Wall Of Arms' marks a return for the Brighton/London five-piece, showing they have easily enough about them as a band, to rise from the ashes of the long gone scene they sprang from.
As opener and single 'Love You Better' kicks in, it's clear the band have evolved into something far beyond guitar pop. Riffs focused at the high end of the fret board remain, but they rumble along, unlike the frantic staccato found on the likes of 'X-Ray' or 'Lego' from the band's debut. It's more anthem-like than the catchy, energetic first record.
That's not to say it isn't full of rousing verses and massive sing-along choruses. Despite the apparent, if subtle, change of sound, the band retains the care they poured into their debut. Every track is so wonderfully and perfectly crafted, from the grand riffs of 'Can You Give It,' to the epic thundering drums rolls of 'No Kind Words' to gorgeous closer 'Bag Of Bones.' Combining the chaos of 'Colour It In' with maturity and genuine musical brilliance, they create some of the potential anthems of the year in 'Young Lions' and 'William Powers.'
In the same way, frontman Orlando Weeks has evolved his lyrical approach, retaining the heartfelt nature of his previous work and entwining it with the same maturity. Lyrically, it's darker and cleverer than many of the records that 'Wall Of Arms' is likely to be mentioned alongside of. From the insightful "So pride aside I clear the air / and sweet smells they followed there / that's compromise sweetheart," on 'Kiss & Resolve' to the desperately impassioned "When there's a devil in the doorway / Heaven in the hallway / say you still adore me" on the epic 'One Hand Holding,' Weeks proves his worth as one of the great young lyricist of recent times.
'Wall Of Arms' lifts The Maccabees head and shoulders above those they first surfaced with in late 2006. It's grand, it's beautiful, it's perceptive, and there's plenty of evidence to prove this is only the start.