Maximo Park / The National Health

“Do I really need to give an introduction?” That’s the way the album begins, and that’s exactly how i’m going to start here. Unfortunately for Maximo Park, I have an answer, & it may not be one they’d expect!

Yes lads, yes I believe you do!

Maximo Park returned earlier in 2012 for the first time in three years, with new album The National Health. The fourth studio album for the Geordie five piece, in an already 12 year career. The first single release from the album, “Hips & Lips”, can be almost imagined to be the basis for the term ‘grower’, as the guys appear to have returned not necessarily with the same riff based catchiness of the first album, the fast paced electronic tone of the second album & certainly not the disco filled vibe of the third album. In fact, their new effort appears edgier, darker, more lyric focused. They seem to have something to say, profound or not, sentimental or not, but either way, they’ve come up with the sound to make sure you’re listening. The first track “When I Was Wild”, imitates a funeral march. Moody & ambient, almost fitting for the end of an album in its lack of ability to kick off any sort of musical journey. But that appears to be the beauty of it. The whole record strikes you in every way you’d never expect. “Hips & Lips” is almost whispered throughout the verse, but with a depth that holds your attention, wanting more, needing to get to the end, and with a smart, minimalistic backing track.

Fourth track “The Undercurrents” has to be considered a stand out track, with honourable mentions going also to “Write This Down” and “Until The Earth Opens Wide”, with a sentimentality that with an open mind & a willing ear, could not only tug the heart-strings, but pull them clean out of your chest. Again, this track sees a much more subdued front man in Paul Smith, who quite frankly appeared to have a heavy relationship with ADD on previous albums, and for anyone that has been lucky enough to see Maximo Park live, he’s a mad man that provides one hell of a show, and sends you home knowing that your money was well spent, and worked for. On this album, the goal of attaining a more mature, credible reputation in the current music scene has calmed the vocalist, but by no means taken away from any of his many other attributes.

With some radio exposure already, no doubt pushed by such radio DJ’s as Edith Bowman…. & well that might be it, Maximo Park have arrived back on the scene, but by no means has it made a notable splash. Then again neither did the last album, in fact the one before didn’t exactly make 2007 the year of Maximo Park. Only time will tell, and maybe their choice of follow-up single, whether they’ve returned with the success & attention produced by “A Certain Trigger”. But many i imagine will completely miss the release of “The National Health”, and Maximo Park will spend a few more years, in the background, just doing their thing, playing to their already established fans… before attempting it all again!

So, yes. To most, I imagine you do require an introduction…

and you just received one.

Words by Stuart ‘Mojo20’ Green.

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