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There was something about the early Maximo Park that suggested that they could become one of my favourite bands. Their North Eastern accents, the obtuse lyrics about the Northumbrian coastline and pit villages, just the merest hint of Prefab Sprout. But then everything went rather bland and boring and I lost interest. Therefore you could have knocked me down with the paw of a Bedlington terrier when I heard the lead track off this their 5th album. ‘Brain Cells’ is utterly superb. It wipes away their wishy washy jangly indie in a swoop of dark synths, stark electronica and paranoid vocals. Honestly, give it a listen, its great.
Similarly ‘Leave this Island’ utilises a more electronics based sound with effective piano stabs picking out a plaintive melody. Perma-hatted singer Paul Smith really shows his worth on this track some really well thought out and effective lyrics and the track builds up in layers of intensity, a ‘page turner’ if you will. The concerns start on ‘Lydia, The Ink Will Never Dry’ which dribbles along in a sea of Smiths-lite guitars without really catching light. ‘My Bloody Mind’ is a discordant rocker with Smith doing his best (and not very good) attempt at a Mark E Smith style bark. ‘Is It True’ mixes the pulsing electronics with some plagent guitars and ‘Drinking Martini’s’ begins nicely with some atmospheric european rock stylings. However, the longer the album trails on (and it only clocks in at only 35 short minutes) the more you think the band should have kept the good bits in a locker and worked on some material of equal quality.
Maximo Park strike me as a band who could be very interesting indeed yet are terrified of isolating their healthy fan base and so continue to plod away in the guitar based rut they have been furrowing. This album does, however show glimpses of what they could do if they set their minds to it. Sparks of brilliance so worth a listen.
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