Album: The Maccabees, Wall of Arms, (Fiction)

Tricky second-album syndrome? These boys take it in their stride
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The Independent Culture

Brighton quintet the Maccabees are back with their second offering – an older, wiser and even better-looking brother to their 2007 debut, Colour It In.

What hasn't changed here is frontman Orlando Weeks' desire to open his heart and sing from it, resulting in moments of tender, fragile and pure emotion.

With a darker sound courtesy of producer Markus Dravs (Coldplay, Björk, Arcade Fire), album opener "Love You Better" floats along at an almost lazy pace until the tension rises.

Elsewhere, songs such as "No Kind Words" are also given room to build slowly and menacingly. "If you've got no kind words to say, you should say nothing more at all," Weeks warns over a crescendo that's sure to be a live favourite with the moshpit brigade.

Tricky second-album syndrome? On the contrary; Wall of Arms will be one of the better indie-pop-rock offerings of the year and could even propel the Maccabees into the heavyweight division. Whatever happens, they're a festival must-see for the summer ahead.

Pick of the album: 'Seventeen Hands' is the album's catchiest moment