In many ways, The Libertines were a masterclass in the making of a modern cult rock band. A thousand young acolytes dashed to their sweaty hem to make notes on every grand romantic gesture, to measure every neatly cut jib. So many, however, got it wrong in the application (including, sometimes, the splintered Libs themselves). Too many bands lauded depressing debauchery over spirited freedom, mistook lunk-headed nationalism for misty-eyed myth-making. So many forgot the romantic optimism that lay at the core. Not The Maccabees.
What we have in ‘First Love’, you see, is a song that transcends its surroundings so effortlessly it makes everything around it look grey. “Do you miss home?” quivers Orlando Weeks, his voice a febrile spectre. “First love/Last love/Hold me love, it’s only love” he coos, as instruments fall in and out of step – a Jonathan Richman guitar chug, a startling snowfall of Johnny Marr-style feedback, a quick burst of hi-hats that vibrate like a hummingbird’s wing. It’s explosive, and romantic, but importantly, sounds totally unforced; completely natural. A lifetime of experience crushed into 193 precious, breathless seconds. Destiny has it ‘First Love’ will be sung long and loud in freshers’ halls across the nation. Do you miss home? Maybe at the start of the song. Probably a little less by the end.