Words by Brian Salvatore

Great songs have a way of sneaking up on you. I happened to hear the title track of Marks to Prove It on WNYC while at work, and was stopped in my tracks. The track had incredible drive, cutting guitars, an unstoppable chorus, and a weird jazzy breakdown – it was a revelation, and I had to find out more about this band, The Maccabees, that I had only known in passing.

The record is an incredibly confident affair, done by a band at the height of their powers. The six-piece lineup allows for the songs to sound expansive and intricate, but never overdone. The three guitars all take a different approach, and bassist Rupert Jarvis weaves between them masterfully. Keyboard flourishes enhance the music in subtle but important ways, and the occasional doubling of the vocals make the melody the centerpiece of every song.

It is a welcome surprise when the most interesting part of a song isn’t immediate, and many of the songs on the record build in intrigue and complexity as they progress. Songs shift and mutate as they go on, but they also grow in strength and determination, and by the time the last chord has been strummed on each song, you feel like you’ve really gone somewhere with the piece of music.

Even the elements that don’t work quite as well – the saxophone seems out of place when it pops up, and cheeses up the proceedings a bit – all add to the songs in a way that sets the band apart from their contemporaries. It is easy enough to name a few bands who, superficially, are referenced here, but The Maccabees connect the dots in unique ways, allowing the listener to really get enveloped in the sound of the record. Above all, the album has a tone and a vibe that ties it all together – as “Something Like Happiness” says, it ‘tastes like nothing else.’

The Maccabees
‘Marks to Prove It’
Fiction Records
© August 7th, 2015



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