Alas, we are in mourning.
On the 8th August, 2016, The Maccabees announced that after 14 years together, they were calling it a day. That’s right, The Maccabees. Nope, this isn’t a joke. The actual, real-life, The Maccabees.
In an open letter to fans, the band claimed that although the decision was ‘an incredibly difficult one’, they were proud to bow out at on their own terms, and at their ‘creative peak’. They thanked their supporters, promised some farewell shows, and then, just like that, they were gone. Forever.
(Well, not really forever, because the point is that they’re going to play some goodbye gigs, but it’s a delicate time, so you can forgive the hyperbole.)
When reading their departure statement, it’s hard not to be drawn to the term ‘creative peak’. It jumps out at you. Grabs you by your heartstrings. Twists the rusty knife that little bit more. Why? Because, it’s so darn true. Here is a band at the absolute top of their game, making the decision to step away from the podium the very second that they’d reached its lofty summit.
Marks To Prove It was a towering triumph in anxious, post-millennial probing, as poignant as it was prickly. It captured everything that The Maccabees had been threatening to produce since their self-assured sophomore album, Wall Of Arms. Whilst that record, and its follow-up, Given To The Wild, were fine examples of a band evolving mightily, Marks To Prove It drank from the barrel its predecessors only scraped at. It was self-assured and excellent; a spanning piece of multifaceted music that was intricately crafted by a group of enormously talented musicians. A long-awaited, crowning record.
They’d just headlined Latitude, too. Along with Foals, they were the British band who looked most likely to break into the elite cluster of the Headliners Club. Their leap was an incredibly important moment for a number of young, British bands – it showed them that the glass ceiling was prone to shatter. As long as you did your time, continued to churn out good music, whilst building your reputation as a live act, you too would at some stage be afforded the opportunity. They took it, too, with both hands. When it comes to performing live, few are better at doing what The Maccabees do.
There’s also a symbolic kind of sadness to their parting, too. Once again, much like Foals, they came from a golden era of indie rock that saw many of their contemporaries crumble along the way (may the forever Pigeon Detectives rest in peace). Whilst they and Foals survived the test of time, few others did – The Courteeners certainly deserve as a mention, as do, to an extent, The Cribs, but you’re hard placed to find another act from that timeframe who’ll immediately spring to mind. Whatever hurdle was thrown at them, The Maccabees seemed to vault it and come back stronger. The only problem I have with their usage of ‘creative peak’ is its teleological bias – the connotation that they’d grown as much as they felt they could. I disagree. I think everything pointed to a group of musicians who had finally learned to govern their stupendous talent, turning limitless potential into beautiful delivered goods. Everything pointed to them entering the stratosphere.
But, as the title suggests, this article isn’t intended as melancholic. Quite the opposite. It’s an ode to a band I, and many others like me, were able to grow up alongside. We evolved in conjunction, albeit it vastly different ways, but regardless of their next ventures, those five boys from Brighton will always have an important place in my heart. I guess, in all honesty, their decision to bow out now is both brave and admirable. They are a truly excellent band, and we were lucky to have them for as long as we did.
All the best, lads – here’s to you, eh.
Words by HQ