The Maccabees – Marks To Prove It Review

104 weeks in a cramped, two-roomed London studio could have easily been the breaking point for Indie Rock southerners, the Maccabees, but nevertheless, they took their claustrophobia and turned it into something beautiful: the band’s fourth studio album, Marks To Prove It, which came out on July 31st.

The boys first went into the studio in 2013, and were hoping for a release early in 2014, but things took a little longer than expected. In an NME article, Orlando Weeks stated: “We haven’t really come across the songs that set the tone or mood for this record yet, we’re kind of shooting in the dark. But I like that: there isn’t a specific thing I’m trying to funnel stuff into.’ His quote probably best explains why the album is such a mix of sounds and feelings. It starts off with their title track, a loud and aggressive combination of Week’s relatively upbeat vocals contrasted with the heavy guitar riff’s we hear at the beginning. The song see’s a few tempo changes which don’t seem out of place at all, but rather compliment the rest of the track.
Kamakura, the album’s second track, (also a tourist hub near Tokyo) is almost a polar opposite to “Marks to prove it”- and this is one of the things I really love about the album. Contrast is welcomed and far from ill-fitting. Next on the album is “Ribbon Road”. It has upbeat elements, but there’s just something about Orlando Week’s vocals that add an incredible depth to his lyrics, drawing quite a bit of emotion in the process. Not that this is a bad thing at all in my opinion – it’s almost a trademark quality that separates the Maccabees from other bands that aren’t so great. The percussion really reminds me of “Fireside” by the Arctic Monkeys. Both are great. The Crescendo at the end of the bridge is also a really nice touch, “Ribbon Road” is one of my favourite tracks off the album.
“Spit it out” has an awfully sombre beginning. It’s one of those songs that you’ll hear at Leeds festival this year that makes you question how to appropriately dance to something this miserable, but thankfully within a few seconds it’s more than ample jumping-up-and-down material. I wish I could say the same about “Silence”, but unfortunately it looks like everyone will be holding their lighters up to this one. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that isn’t aided by the minor piano, but it’s probably going to rain at Leeds so at least your tears won’t be that noticeable. 
 
My complete and utter favoruite from the album is “River song”, I can’t even word how much I love it but let me try. It’s another slightly depressing track, with an occasional wail of an instrument I can’t quite put my finger on, it sounds like a dieing saxaphone but that’s as good as my description gets. Oboe? French horn? Who knows. The excuisite sound takes me back to my year 9 music class when we had to name classical instruments. Really boring and shitty. Anywho, the chorus for this track is amazing, it comes crashing with heavy instrumentation alongside the obscure saxaphone and it makes me think of Oliver Twist for some reason. I just love it. 
 
The album is really stripped back in comparison to their older records. One thing that stands out is how much piano the boys have used, and how well it’s created a mood for the album. “Slow sun” is a song with really prominent piano especially towards the end. The only song I could really critique is “Something like Happiness” which felt way too layered for my liking, there was just too much going on. A different sound entirely could have been achieved if the beat of the song was toned down a bit. 
 
There’s already a remix out of pioneering systems which is the second last song on the album, taking into consideration that the album was only officially released July 31’st! All in all I love what the boys have created, and I really feel like its a progression from their previous material. You can see them at Reading and Leeds on August 28th-30th, and more information about upcoming gigs you can get from their website. 
The Maccabees – Marks To Prove It = 8/10
Hannah Crowe
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