South London to Brighton migrants The Maccabees seem to have shed some of their fledgling boisterousness. Popular debut, Colour It In, represented, they say, their adolescence. Now, having moved on from the days of youthful heartbreak, their second album seems to convey that the boys may have had their edges hardened.
Much of the gentleness and subtlety has gone; one suspects that nothing from this tracklist will follow Toothpaste Kisses onto the soundtrack of a wearying advert.
Promotional download No Kind Words is ominously cold, albeit concluded by an ill-fitting pace change that screams of mismatching two average ideas where one properly conceived one would have done.
Musically the record is samey and as a result the tracks are somewhat forgettable. Vocally the overzealous dousing of breaks and choruses with monotonous group harmonies becomes a waiting game for the listener: how long until the next protracted bout of wailing?
Unusually it is the well-written lyrics that provide the majority of the rhythm. William Powers' lines, ''there's a love-fuelled lust/ and a thing called trust/ that I must not break for you'' are so gratifying and evocative that they beg to be learnt off by heart and repeated just for fun. And title track Wall of Arms poetically delivers, ''there's no God above me/ no hell below me/ no purgatory/ there's only me who can forgive me''.
Replacement drummer Sam Doyle proves his worth with some imaginative and ingenious beats, particularly boosting Can You Give It, a track which allows each instrument an individual hook of its own. Conversely, Young Lions is repetitive and too much like a sub-standard Arcade Fire tribute band, while Love You Better has some immediacy, but lacks the required energy of an opener and a single.
Popular now, but forgettable over time, The Maccabees seem destined to be another in the line of niche nostalgia bands.