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The National Health
New wave familiarity fails to breed contempt
Stuart Clark, 18 Jun 2012
After a brief hiatus to enable lead singer and bowler hat-wearer Paul Smith to release a solo record, Sunderlandchester’s finest – sorry Futureheads and Field Music – return with album number four, which frankly sounds like albums one through three.
Problematical if they were your typical indie underachievers, but from the get-go Maxïmo have been purveyors of fine XTX-inflected new wave Britpop.
The angular quartet have always come up with a money track and this time round it’s lead single ‘Hips & Lips’, which starts off all mean ‘n’ moody and then erupts into a full-blooded ‘Graffiti’/‘Apply Some Pressure’-style rocker. Make sure to check out the accompanying video, which stars This Is England’s Thomas Turgoose as the mentalist fan since Jed served Alan Partridge his coffee in a washing-machine arlelator.
While not ones to directly nail their colours to a political mast, The National Health’s title-cut leaves you in no doubt as to what the Park make of David Cameron and his class war-waging Old Etonian pals.
Elsewhere, ‘The Undercurrents’ finds Smith mournfully apologising to a betrayed lover (men, pah!); ‘Until The Earth Would Open’ screams out for daytime radio airplay (it won’t get it); ‘Banlieue’ nods towards Tom Waits (never a bad thing); and ‘Unfamiliar Places’ underlines what a tender bunch Maxïmo can be when they want to (you can’t beat a spot of metrosexual healing).
No wheels have been reinvented in the making of this album, but that doesn’t make The National Health any less enticing a proposition.