The Macabees return with their second album “Wall Of Arms” on May 4th. Looking at the press for this lot they are the current NME darlings but I’m not an NME writer so if you’re expecting the usual rounds of guitar wank idolatry then by all means go somewhere else.
For starters let’s get one thing straight The Macabees are an intense bunch, you can almost picture them sat around in a rehearsal room having “brow furrowing” contests. Perhaps followed by a little weep over their respective lyric journals. In fairness however such intensity rubs off in their music, they tend to favour densely written melodies with vocals of a slightly tortured quality, add to this a bristling undercurrent of energy and you get an idea of where they are heading. Yes, they would love to be Arcade Fire but while they aim and shoot high they don’t come close to their luminaries.
You need to dig a little deeper to find other influences but they are there, expect small tips of the hat to the likes of Morrissey and The Smiths although their aforementioned frenetic pace does hide such influences well. You do get an occasional respite most noticeably with the title track which sacrifices musical intensity but goes for one of those “I’ve been through an emotional wringer” vocal performances.
Getting to the end of the album is almost a marathon achievement given its somewhat relentless nature and I suspect as albums go it might not stand the test of time too well. I could almost imagine a member of the band looking back and saying “we were a bit pretentious weren’t we” while another member might reply “yes, but it paid for me to the necessary surgery to have my brow unfurrowed”.
Still all that is for the future to decide, but for now this is perfectly acceptable.