It’s too early to write Maxïmo Park off, or to turf them into the ever-growing pile of indie also-rans. But they’ll need to pull out all the stops to recover their poise after this worrying misstep.
Howard Devoto, Edwyn Collins, Elizabeth Frazer, John Squire, Will Sargent, Barney Sumner, David Gedge, Damon Albarn, Lee Mavers, Norman Blake, Harriet Wheeler, Pete Wiley, Michael Head, Shaun Ryder. Shaun Ryder, your boys have taken a hell of a beating.
Happen across this year’s Brit and NME awards and – aside from the realisation that the slow transformation of Bobby Gillespie and Mani into the baggy Kevin and Perry is now finally complete – what struck most forcefully was (those Arctic Monkeys aside) the absolute absence of any blue-blooded pretenders to the high seat of UK indie.
Watching The Fratellis, The Dirty Pretty Things, Hard-Fi, The Klaxons, Bloc Party, The Kaiser Chiefs – the supposed head-boys of the current class – exercise their particularly stagnant brew of anti-charisma, it became clear that the continued dearth of new GB talent can no longer be brushed off as a seasonal drought – it’s looking more and more like a long term climatic trend.
On the back of their intriguing (but over-praised) debut album, A Certain Trigger, some normally reliable sources have been tipping Newcastle’s Maxïmo Park as the band most likely to develop into something worthwhile and durable. Tracks like ‘Graffiti’ and ‘Apply Some Pressure’ hinted at a depth notably lacking in many of their peers, and Paul Smith’s lyrics – all chatroom blues and call centre fatalism – not to mention his refusal to ditch his hometown accent when singing, suggested a welcome flesh-and-blood approach to his craft.
Hopes were high – especially when it became clear that Smith had sorted out his diabolical hairdo (a cross between Willy Wonka and George Foreman) – that the second album could see Maxïmo Park make genuine strategic gains.
How disappointing then to discover it’s actually a backward step.
Our Earthly Pleasures starts well, with the buoyant ‘Girls Who Play Guitar’ and first single ‘Our Velocity’, but it never maintains the momentum – and ultimately drifts off without leaving any great impression.
There are occasions when it threatens to take off. ‘Your Urge’ is a lovely, melancholic song (“People are judged by their mistakes and how much money that they make”), and the chiming ‘Nosebleed’ (“He changed his look for you but you changed your life for him”) exposes a real heart and sense of compassion, while cascading like an old out-take from R.E.M’s Reckoning. But apart from that, nothing much remarkable happens.
You have to feel some sympathy for Smith. Post-Jarvis, there has been a glaring vacancy for the role as bookish frontman of the people, and Maxïmo Park’s singer seemed to have the job in the bag. Unfortunately, all the evidence suggests that (with a tendency to bloggerel) he has been promoted prematurely and wildly above his ability, and the vignettes on the new record are more Richard Stillgoe than Alan Sillitoe.
With Gil Norton behind the desk, we could also be forgiven for expecting much more, sonically, than is delivered. This is the man who brought gorgeous embellishments to ‘The Killing Moon’ and ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’, remember. Unfortunately, while the chugging guitars and driving synths on Our Earthly Pleasures are rendered with pristine élan, the air-less, digital sheen leaves it depressingly generic.
It’s too early to write Maxïmo Park off, or to turf them into the ever-growing pile of indie also-rans. But they’ll need to pull out all the stops to recover their poise after this worrying misstep. And call on inspiration from some of their illustrious forbearers.
The mighty Maximo Park have announced what promises to be a super-sweaty February 28 visit to Whelan’s, tickets for which are €22.50 and go on sale on Wednesday. You can also catch them early on March 1 in The Limelight, Belfast where it's £16.50 in.Read More
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Everyone knows Maxïmo Park’s Paul Smith is a fan of woolly hats and long, complicated novels. But did you realise Limerick is one of his favourite cities? Or that, as a teenager, he used to copy out all of Morrissey’s lyrics?Read More
From the moment they hit the stage, Maximo Park looked the part, their innate confidence magnified in the small space. Their chief selling-point is frontman Paul Smith and you can immediately see why - he is genuinely eccentric performer.Read More
Brit-rock heroes Maximo Park are back with a new album – and without the novelty hair-cuts. Here they talk about death metal, hip-hop and missing notebooks.Read More
Fresh from playing a string of sold out shows on the NME Awards Tour, Maximo Park have just announced a number of Irish dates.Read More
Maxïmo Park could have easily disappeared into the slew of angular, affected guitar bands that emerged in the UK last year, but two factors helped them stay on the muso radar. One was them being the first non-electronica signing to the unspeakably hip Warp label. The second was their enigmatic frontman Paul Smith with his candid/overwrought lyrics – whichever side of the fence you sit on – and labour intensive stage workout.Read More
Why Maxïmo Park matter more than any other post-Britpop outfit.Read More
Along with their two Dublin Ambassador shows with Arctic Monkeys, Mystery Jets and We Are Scientists, Maxïmo Park are Limerick-bound for a Heineken Green Room Session.Read More
The highlights of Paul Smith's year.Read More
As exclusively revealed by hotpress.com at the start of this month, the NME tour will be coming to Ireland and we've got the dates for you right here.Read More
It’s been quite a year for Maxïmo Park, one that’s seen them emerge as a band with real longevity as opposed to mere scenesters. They’ve done it through a succession of thrilling singles of which ‘Apply Some Pressure’ was the first and, now through the magic of the re-issue, is probably the last for the moment. With new material already starting to appear over the horizon it’s a case of job done and see you next year.Read More
Paul Smith of Geordie punk-pop sensations Maxïmo Park talks to Phil Udell about breaking out of stylistic straight-jackets, the band's affinity with fellow northerners The Futureheads, and why Jose Mourinho's managerial philiosophy is equally as applicable to music as it is to football.Read More
Track after track comes out of the speakers, nipping at your ankles like some overexcited dog that you can’t shake off no matter how hard you try. The production from Bloc Party/Futureheads man Paul Epworth is sparkling and the songs wed pop and punk in perfect manner, all delivered in the deliciously broad Newcastle tones of singer Paul Smith. It reaches a crescendo with the glorious ‘Going Missing’, at which point it seems that Maximo Park can do no wrong. Unfortunately, from then in they start to struggle a tad.Read More
'Apply Some Pressure' is an absolutely fantastic record, bursting with the kind of wide eyed energy that has made all this sort of stuff so exciting.Read More