wallofarmsThere are two things to bear in mind with The Maccabees sophomore album: firstly - do not judge it by the somewhat disturbing image of the band on the front cover, and secondly, it was produced by Markus Dravs who worked with Arcade Fire on Neon Bible. The cover makes it look like a pop-art project circa the 1980s. It’s really not. Whereas the Markus Dravs point is actually something worth considering. His input quietly sits in the background, noticeable, but without stealing their thunder. First track ‘Love You Better’ sets the scene nicely for the rest of the album. Gone are the jumpy guitars and off-beat lyrics, and in comes a horn section, soaring vocals and serious content. These boys have grown-up and it shows. Not necessarily for the better, and certainly not for the worst - it’s simply just different.‘One Hand Holding’ has an addictive sense of urgency about it, with it’s soaring vocals and jumpy horn elements it throws you into a whirlwind of wonderfully constructed musical layers. ‘Can You Give It’ follows suit with its memorable bass melody, sharp, hooky guitars and shout-it-out chorus. These tracks are the most reminiscent of The Maccabees we used to know. But even they reflect a maturity that has developed in leaps and bounds since ‘Colour It In’.It’s in ‘Wall of Arms’ and ‘William Powers’ that you really feel the progression this band have made though. There’s an unmistakable tension running through the album, heightened by lead singer Orlando’s new found vocal strength, and probably encouraged somewhat by Markus Dravs input. The multi-faceted ‘William Powers’ sucks you into an emotional maelstrom, making you feeling like you’ve been tugged by optimism and pessimism at both ends.‘No Kind Words’ is The Maccabees at their darkest moment yet - sombre vocals and a melancholy rhythm coupled with a stop-start pace and brilliant composition make it one of the records stand-out tracks.People will no doubt view this album in different ways - there will be those who see it as a progression from Colour It In, those who moan about them not staying true to their original sound and of course those who simply think they are just another skinny-jean clad indie band (which may be true). But either way, they know how to make a good pop song. ‘Young Lions’ and ‘Kiss and Resolve’ both hit the mark for their irresistible melodies and thoughtful lyrics. Plus there is just something strangely endearing about Orlando’s voice that unwittingly draws you in on every listen.The end of the album winds down gently with ‘Seventeen Hands’ and ‘Bag of Bones’, and although they are no ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ both have a wistful charm about them, full of emotion and feeling.Wall of Arms is an album that screams professionalism from beginning to end. It’s powerful, emotive, heartfelt and has all the right ingredients to survive the ruthless indie cull that so many bands have fallen victim to. The Maccabees have well and truly wormed their way into the heart of the British indie music scene.79%The Maccabees on Myspace