Amidst the grey, expanding developments of Elephant & Castle, indie rock aficionados The Maccabees have been arduously crafting their fourth LP in ever changing surroundings and an evermore changing musical landscape. ‘Marks To Prove It’ is a sublime and subtle record that feels no need to announce itself as compared to the growling snarls of indie ankle biters or psych-surf rockers Wolf Alice, Peace, Catfish & the Bottlemen and the like. One of the Maccabees’ most intriguing traits is the fact that in a three album career span you have never been able to liken any of them to each other. Consider the frantic, tongue-in-cheek indie pop of ‘Latchmere’ to the expansive and luxurious ‘Ayla’.
‘Marks To Prove It’ feels to be an expansion from its Mercury prized nominated predecessor ‘Given to the Wild’ as the formulaic structures of ‘Forever I’ve Known’ and similar can be found once again on the slow burning ‘Kamakura’ and ‘WWI Portraits’. It would be unjust to claim the band have simply repeated themselves as this is far from the truth, they show real development in sound on the graceful yet melancholic ‘Slow Sun’ which is embellished with poignant brass introduction and ambient bass tones. It is the modest and grounded lyrical matter though that reinforces the emotive impact of this track.
There is a perceptive contrast demonstrated through this record that is only achievable with combined knowledge and past experience of album curating. Side A begins with a scream and a grumbling, mechanic title track that moves and evolves at its own speed whilst feeling uncontainable and untameable throughout its unpredictable melodic structure and elaborately textured layers. Meanwhile the closer of this side is aptly titled ‘Silence’ as Felix takes over vocal command and delivers a balladic track with a similar weighted fervour to the immaculate ‘Grew Up at Midnight’ from the third record.
A hidden treasure lurks on the sixth spot entitled ‘River Song’ which could have easily been the comeback single should the Maccabees have wanted to identify further within the genre of avant-garde. A sea chanty undertone pulls this song along the Thames with a deliciously theatrical sonar not too dissimilar from the innovative Arcade Fire paired with an anthemic folk chorus complete with multi-layered chorus. ‘Something Like Happiness’ is the band stripped of its productive and instrumental flesh allowing the lyrical bones to shine and glimmer in the smoggy London sunlight as you consider whether this track is written within elation or despair.
I personally commit to my opinion that the London outfit remain criminally underrated in the UK yet the purity and fascination of ‘Marks To Prove It’ may well be the album that lifts the band high atop album charts and festival lineups with their intense musicianship and a discography now that toes the border between crowd pleasers and technically triumphant masterpieces.
‘Marks To Prove It’ is available now in the UK through Fiction Records.