Review : Maximo Park - The National Health
Clash musicLet’s start positively, eh? Listening to this does serve to remind you of the ferocity and frankly enormous tunes found on Maximo Park’s first two albums. Unfortunately, other than aiding nostalgia, there’s not much else nice to say about ‘The National Health’. The drums still dash, the guitars are still artfully angular and the lyrics still leave a lot to be desired. The grim irony of hearing Paul Smith dourly intoning “human nature is on a loop, spare me a moment to regroup”, on an album in need of a new idea is truly depressing. Save yourself the money and just return to their first two....full text
Guardian"We're in a global recession, and everyone is being bombarded with bouncy, happy music," singer Paul Smith said recently – a bit richly, given the jauntiness of Maximo Park's own output . The difference is that if Maximo weren't bouncing they'd be crying, and on their fourth album, the formless anxiety previously kept at bay by those bright, jerky guitars seems to be getting the upper hand. The title track , as spiky a thing as they've ever done, is riven by Smith's increasingly frantic mayday call: "England is sick and I'm a casualty … the daily grind, the moral wealth – a portrait of the national health!" he screeches. The pivotal line in the atypically grungy Banlieue – "Here come the animals" – is another yelp of politically motivated disquiet. His jangled nerves infect the rest of the band: throughout the album, the guitars and electronics fizz with tension. Despite initial appearances, though, social commentary doesn't play a big part; elsewhere, as on the careworn The Undercurrents, they revert to the usual examinations of why love is so foul. Overall: energised and good fun....full text
Contact Music'The National Health" finds Maximo Park playing to their strengths. It's the band's fourth studio album and, whilst they are hardly breaking new ground, either on their own sonic turf, or anyone else's, they appear to have expertly distilled the essence of Maximo Park and managed to filter it neatly into 13 fairly solid tracks, to make up their latest long player.
They may have named the album 'The National Health', after one of the more political tracks but this is no concept album; in fact the strongest of the songs seem to be hinged on a particularly unhinged relationship breakdown. There's a healthy strain of bitterness and rage on a rolling boil, that runs throughout. 'Write this Down' is the finest vehicle for this barely-contained anger. It kicks at a faster pace than its neighbours and is screaming louder than an attention-starved child to be cued up as the next single. ...full text
Sputnik MusicMaxïmo Park’s arrival in 2005 with A Certain Trigger saw them thrown straight into a market already saturated with quirky British guitar groups. However, Darwinism applies in music as much as it does in the wild, and their infectious, literate and just straight-up solid tunes stood them in good stead, isolating them from the rest of their dunderheaded contemporaries. The group’s odes to suburban drudgery, complicated romance and war and peace spoke directly to many. The good work continued with 2007’s Our Earthly Pleasures, a more refined version of what had come before. If they followed up with one more great record, their momentum could have been unstoppable. Instead, what followed was the lacklustre Quicken The Heart. Aside from the jumpy single “The Kids Are Sick Again”, the album saw the group devolve their sound into a more forgettable affair. Maxïmo Park had lost their bite, the common touch that gained them critical plaudits and a dedicated following....full text
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