Let us suppose for a second that artists are looking to direct your attention to a universal truth. That brush strokes are meant not only to communicate emotion but also to enlighten a patron on the depths of the human condition. Within that context, picture a bespectacled man walk to a microphone, clear his throat, drink from a glass of water at the podium, and finally speak these words: “Dude! Growing up kinda sucks! Ya know what I mean?”
This is the dilemma of The Maccabees
Guys who once sang love songs to “Lego” suddenly ‘growing up’ enough to tell us that life can be a drag in over arching metaphor is a pretty big leap. So when Orlando Weeks sings “tell yourself you’re getting wiser / the truth is we’ve all done the same” on “River Song” you can’t help but wonder if it is a hangover talking, or a real attempt at artistic expression.
It’s this idea that becomes rather distracting. For a band that was once full of twenty something fun, their conversion is disconcerting. Yes there is high energy in much of Marks To Prove It, which plays well with their new ‘confusion and anger,’ but when they drift towards the more melancholy the record loses cohesion.
This entire idea plays itself out in the title track which starts as an ‘all hands on board’ rocking number, but finishes in raindrop falling keyboard loneliness. Throughout the record they spend a lot of time describing things, but not much on drawing you in. Like my ‘bespectacled surfer dude’ the idea is amusing, but the realityis not compelling enough to make you stay.
A friend of mine used to have a saying a long time ago that best suits Marks To Prove It – “Good from far, but far from good.”