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Wall of Arms
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Whether its maturity of even a sign of the times, the Maccabees are in a bit of a mood. But then everyone's in a mood, which is exactly why Wall Of Arms was never going to be Colour It In mark II. The band has experienced internal strife and you only need to pay vague attention to the album's lyrical content to know that things haven't been plain sailing in other aspects of life either. In other words, they're growing up and times are hard. Times are hard for human beings everywhere, of course, but they are especially hard for an indie-rock band tentatively offering its tough second album to an industry that can't decide whether it's dying, resurrecting or being born anew. While the Maccabees aren't showing any signs of decay, their new release is reflective of a band unsure whether it should stick or twist. Growing pains have never been so painful.

Wall Of Arms can be likened to Colour It In's older, more world-weary brother. Although the adrenaline buzz and doe-eyed romanticism of the first album hasn't been totally discarded, it certainly has been tamed. No longer fresh-faced, the band are to be found ruminating on what the hell just happened, leaving Wall of Arms feeling like some kind of Colour It In aftermath. While the Maccabees aren't depressed or out of love, neither are they looking forward. They have clearly spent a lot of time thinking, walking fine lines between emotional extremes. For the listener, the corrolory is an album profuse with tension and feelings of insecurity. The album's superb opener, Love You Better is representative of the album. Built on a lover's vow, the song takes you into the heart of a faltering relationship and the complexities that lie within it - quite a leap from two-minute ditties about toothpaste-flavoured kisses.

Musically, Wall of Arms is far less consistent than Colour It In. The album's emotional vicissitudes create an uneven terrain, taking you through darker, more complex places before you are met by songs truer to the Maccabee convention. The album's slower pace moves the Maccabees much closer to Razorlight. The excellent indie-disco of One Hand Holding and the riff-heavy semi-anthem Can You Give It? could have appeared on Up All Night without a great deal of fuss. But that is only half of the story. Wall Of Arms seems to want to move into commercial territory as much as it is recoiled by it. One moment you're dancing around and enjoying its punk-pop predictability and the next you're sitting down wondering what the hell just grabbed you and prodded at your chest.

There is no better illustration of the album's Janus-like ego than the transition from its high point to perhaps its weakest juncture. It's a shame that the brooding, grinding intensity of No Kind Words should be met by the more upbeat and easily more forgettable Dinosaurs, the one track that shouldn't have made in onto this record. The chasm that the album's zenith creates between what is effectively its first and second halves is something that Wall Of Arms struggles to cope with. It isn't until you're met with William Power's intriguing bridge section and its delicate refrain: "And I'll see you when you're older / when we're older" that the album again hits another peak. Not only does Wall Of Arms waver between moods idiosyncratically, it wavers in quality quite markedly too.

When the album does lull, it is never with a sulk. The initially melancholic Young Lions explodes into a frenzy of hi-hats and elastic baselines, while the album's title track sounds oddly similar to the eccentric brass-laden path the Arctic Monkeys took with their second album, Favourite Worst Nightmare. Its confessions of non-existent faith represent the album's lyrical peak: "And through these eyes / there's no god above me / no purgatory / no pearly gates / the worms are what await me / it's only me that can forgive me." The otherworldly Bag Of Bones wouldn't sound out of place on an Elbow or Shins record and, at nearly five minutes long, feels like quite a welcome departure from the second half's jarring intensity.

If Colour It In exposed the extrovert side of the Maccabees, Wall Of Arms sheds a little light on the darker introspections of the Brighton quintet. Some will bemoan the album's moodiness, others will embrace its greater depth. In uncertain times, the Maccabees have made a brave attempt at ensuring their own future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2010
The Maccabees have got to be one of the most underrated bands of all time, literally. I bought both of their albums after having seen them at a festival over the summer, and for the prices of both of their albums i thought why not? It was the biggest bargain ever! I'm so glad I bought the albums! There's something for everyone on each album, the songs vary and none of them sounds 'samey' like some bands, there's so much variety from song to song, from jittery up-tempo beats to slower, softer ones.

If you're into indie music this is certainly for you, and even if you're not, give it a try because they are truly fantastic!

This particular album for me is the best of the two, it's more matured and defined, but both are amazing and definitely worth having in your music collection! Watch this space, they're the next big thing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2009
I was so excited for this album to be released, as 'Colour it in' was such a brilliant album. The first couple of times i listened to this album all the way through, i wasn't that taken with it...

Usually if something doesn't grab me straight away i don't tend to really bother with it again, but being such a big fan of The Maccabees i gave it another chance...best decision i've made in a long time.
All of the tracks are equally amazing. They all flow so well into each other, and it's actually really difficult to pick out the best track.
The whole album sounds so much more grown up than 'colour it in', but still has that element of fun and that distinct maccabees sound. One of the best albums of the year so far!

So for anyone who wasn't that taken by this album after a couple of listens; persevere !
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2009
Caught this band on TV at Reading earlier this year and bought the album on the strength of seeing them play one number "love you better" - so pleased I bought this, the album is absolutely brilliant with not a weak track or filler on it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2010
'Love You Better' was the track that first brought my attention to The Maccabees and is coincidentally, the opening track. The tracks that followed still kept me listening though. Orlando's ability to capture you with his somewhat emotional vocals prove to work well throughout and the diversity embedded within the more mellowed down tracks of No Kind Words and Bag of Bones, demonstrate the range of ability within this album. To me, this album does NOT fall into the one track album category, as more of their capability is shown throughout. It's a recommended buy for sure!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The second album for a band with a lot of ideas. At first listen you'd be forgiven for thinking they had lost their touch with a catchy song. However, this album gives a lot more than the debut album did. It offers the listener a chance to delve into the mind of the band and they have created an album that verges of greatness in parts.

Songs such as ;No Kind Words, Lover You Better, Bag of Bones, One Hand Holding and Young Lions are terriffic and are worthy of a download alone.

Get this album!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
If you loved the first album you'll love this one... took a few listens to fall in love with this, just the same as colour it in but thoroughly recomend as this hasnt been out of my cd player in quite a while! The title track (No. 5) is defo worth a listen to see if you'll enjoy the album before buying!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Was unsure at first but this album gets better with every listen - some really crisp '80's' guitar rifts that enhance every song. Vocals are quite monotone and understated that people will either love or hate but I recommend playing a few times before making a judgment.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2010
Having recently bought and enjoyed the first album,"Colour It In",I looked forward to hearing "Wall Of Arms" to see if the band could follow up on an impressive debut album.

With a hint of Arcade Fire,The Maccabees main strengths are clever lyrics and catchy melodies that seem like old favourites without sounding unoriginal.Wall Of Arms sees the band add trumpets,trombones and flugelhorn for a powerful soundtrack.

Love You Better,Can You Give It and Wall Of Arms are probably the stand-out tracks although I can't think of a weak track.A collaberation with Roots Manuva,Empty Vessels,shows that the band are no one-trick ponies.Even a cover of I Drove All Night sounds like a song that belongs on the album.

Whether you own the first album or not I would recommend adding Wall Of Arms to your CD collection.
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on 11 June 2009
I think 2009 is the year for the Maccabees. Their second offering is well thought out, wonderfully written and shows their maturity as a band. I think the Maccabees may be one of those "fine wine" bands- getting better and better with age. As their first album remains a favourite of mine, it was always going to be tough to follow but Wall of Arms does it for me. Particular favourites? It's a temptation to say "all of them!" but most outstanding have to be "Love you Better" and "No Kind Words". However, what makes The Maccabees such a fantastic band is their ability to perform live- i've seen them 3 times and each time I've been blown away so if you ever get the chance to catch them live- do it! It's a memorable experience. Verdict? Stick it in your basket and buy it!
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