Monday, 3 February 2014

Maximo Park - 'Too Much Information'

I don't often blog about individual records but in the case of Maximo Park's new one I must make an exception. On a first listen I am suitably stunned. This is not the album I was expecting or was hoping for. It's so much more. It is not a follow up to 'The National Health', the lads' last album, full of rampant guitar and keyboard and Paul's voice soaring and almost but never quite cracking. I should have guessed from the teaser songs they published in the last month or so. I didn't listen to it streaming over the past week. I was patient and waited for the record to come out.

There are two versions of the album and, obviously, I went for the deluxe version with more songs. The title of the album is, as ever, a line from one of the songs (in this case, 'Midnight On The Hill') and I have no idea what the artwork is meant to be. It's their fifth album (if you discount 'Missing Songs') and ably demonstrates their strength and vitality, a fearless approach to producing new music and experimentation. This isn't a record produced to formula or to please, this is so much more.

So, what is it?

Maximo Park has torn up the 'how to make a Maximo record' rulebook and started afresh. This is a band we're familiar with and there's enough 'old' Maximo to keep us happy but there's more to explore. The lyrics have gone to new heights and complexity with imagery flowing in intriguing directions that will take several listens to get a grasp. The music is far more experimental than on previous records and explores different avenues - there are a couple of indie-guitar driven pop songs but most are a quieter affair.  We even get harmonica on an almost folksy 'I'll Be Here In The Morning' (although it might also be an early demo for a Faces rocker?). We also get a cover of Nick Drake's 'Northern Sky' which sounds so different with Paul's accent.

There is so much in this record that it'll take me a while to unpick it but I know I'm going to enjoy the adventure. There are Paul's trademark literary songs about poets and people and his 'Middlesborough Man' is possibly the most poppy song on the record and 'My Bloody Mind' is almost Stooges-like. They effortlessly move through different styles while being thoroughly original all the way.

I fell in love with Maximo Park again today, with an older band with more experiences to sing about and musical routes to explore. It's a great listen and I look forward to delving into the subtleties of this record and joining them on what will be a really interesting journey going forward. I am most impressed and already loving the songs.

Well done lads!

No comments: