Maximo Park – Too Much Information Review

Maximo Park have been around for about a decade now and aside from wanting to make you feel old, I want to point to the gradual if not noticed progression their music has taken. Paul Smith has always been known for his unusual and insightful lyrics but the roaring, rapid and instantaneous approach of their early Indie sound has slowly been sanded down over the years or utilised in a very different way as they reach their fifth album. Though I’m you may think I’d be a little biased attending the same college as Paul Smith and ending up in Newcastle University like the band; as always I’m discrediting all of it and being supercritical as always! You do get a sense of a little bit of unfairness creeping in with the way they are treated. They haven’t produced the most ground breaking of music, but you feel that some are just inventing any excuse to limit their praise of the band. Critique of the band because of his regional tone or because he ‘overthinks and romanticises his unusual lyrics’ cannot be a valid critique when those such as Alex Turner are praised and given full marks for such a thing. Perhaps it is because Mr Turner has diluted his voice for the Latte drinkers in South West London or the Upper East Side as heaven forbid someone from the North East of England to be thoughtful and considerate about their lyrics. O.K that may have been a little biased but I think I’ve made my point. You did get the feel that there was a much darker current running across their 2012 album The National Health and hints of more synth driven work and this has probably come to fruition with Too Much Information.

‘Brain Cells’ is a song that opens with a simple, low lying bass line with Paul’s echoed and more wistful vocals over the top. The whirring and recurring synth sounds add to the more haunting and darker tones of the song while the rapid bursts of percussion give the song a prominent beat and rhythm. The song is bold and different and resembles more of a dance or synth track. I think the song flows well and there is a real atmospheric if not synthetic quality to the song in conjunction with Paul Smith’s earthy vocal. The song also slowly rises and falls with it’s tones to good effect but rarely flat-lines so keeping you on that edge throughout the song and not building to a predictable, noisy and crashing conclusion. Perhaps the key to this song is it’s restraint. ‘Leave This Island’ is undoubtedly one of the standout tracks from the album. It opens with steady percussion which would seem so vulnerable to smash by a sudden shift in tempo, but this is not the case. The synths softly layer themselves upon it with strikes from a piano in slow, pulsating and rhythmic fashion. Paul’s vocals are also laid on gently with a deeper and more sincere vocal that deliver the considered and thoughtful lyrics without distraction. The song has such a rhythmic and melodic feel about it but it has been forced into an emotive and slightly tragic feeling song in a marvellous contradiction. Again the song shifts tone and ups tempo subtly with more rapid synths and sudden bursts of percussion that are still held in place with the songs tone by Paul’s softer vocal.

‘Is It True’ has a late 70’s and early 80’s feel about it’s electronica with hints of 80’s Indie about it. It is an odd combination that works with the sharper synths sounds splattering against the drawn out and lingering strikes of the car. The vocals have the calm depth to pull the song along and evoke a deeper feel to the song. It is almost inoffensively retro in that sense and has been manipulated and balanced off pretty well. ‘Her Name Was Audre’ follows a more familiar Maximo Park style of the last decade and is a short, sharp blast to perhaps allow long time fans some nostalgia but that’s about all it does really. ‘Midnight On The Hill’ is another cascading and anthemic guitar track with a slightly distant vocal and an interesting turn in the song with more high pitched and a cascading ending but a song that feels very 2006. This catchy indie tune is recreated with ‘Lydia, The Ink Will Never Dry’ with pop like melody and vocal. On the whole, this album is their most thoughtful and calmest album where everything is laid out rather gently and in a more engaging way. Though some of the album features some great electronic spheres and atmospheres that are produced magnificently and although Paul Smith delivers again with the vocals, there is a slight niggling thought that more could have been done with the rest of the album which are just good tracks in spite of the slight variation amongst it. It is still a very solid album nonetheless.

Maximo Park – Too Much Information – 7.5/10

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