Maximo Park // The National Health
The Maxïmo brigade have grown electro muscles but this is no reinvention, writes Cindy Suzuki - they just got better
The National Health
* * * * *
Tempting though it is for rock and roll bands to try on a different jacket around the fourth album mark, on this evidence it seems Maxïmo Park are solely focused on getting better.
Yes, ‘The National Health’ does see them grow electro muscles, most notably on the Depeche Mode-esque ‘Banlieue’ (hopefully a future single, it’s wildly passionate and futuristic) and the single ‘Hips and Lips', but the passion is the main thing in the spotlight here; in the past Maxïmo could occasionally be accused of sounding bored with their own sound. Not so here: they sound refreshed, insatiably excited to take their new tunes for a spin using the full breadth of the studios (it was recorded in Wales and Bath). The choruses are bigger, the monkey on their back lighter – it’s almost as if they’ve spent the last three years training in Taekwondo.
There’s also a real humanity to this record: ‘This Is What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted’ steals back the piano from Coldplay to deliver an eyeball to eyeball, cut-the-bullshit statement, while ‘The Undercurrents’ finds Paul Smith refreshingly disarmed and asking for forgiveness to what can only be described as a pulsating rock ballad. A rock ballad! Whatever next.
Maxïmo Park sound more comfortable in their shoes than ever before on ‘The National Health’ – relevant, refreshed and thinking on their feet, this is still a band you can depend on.