We’ve been counting down the weeks towards this release and now after a full weekend to revel in it and get to know it, it’s finally time to take a good hard look at the latest and sixth studio album by Newcastles indie/alt rock gods Maximo Park. The release of ‘Risk To Exist’ won’t be brand new information to fans of Mojo20 as we spoke about it in the single review of the title track a couple of months back, and if you recall, we said we’d be reviewing the album as well (ta-da), and of course if you’re part of the legions of die hard Maximo Park fans that exist throughout the UK and beyond, an album release is always a massive event. So with no further ado, let’s get into it.
As I previously mentioned, we already tackled the title track and you can read all about it right here, but one thing I did mention in that article was that the band seemed to have reached back and reignited their sound from their earlier years, perhaps more successful and commercially memorable years too, but whilst doing this, they’ve managed to avoid sullying their evolution and dropping all ideas of maturing their style as they’ve most certainly done since their debut record. The rest of the album doesn’t at all contradict this and I was reaffirmed of this point by the second single from the album ‘Get High (No, I don’t)’ as it kept the tempo high and the content fun. It’s one of the more bass orientated tracks I can ever recall them doing and this always makes for a more danceable track, which ‘Get High’ definitely is, but this actually opens a trend within the album as a lot of the tracks are very “dance floor” and even have a much more 80’s vibe. Maximo Park have always worked with keyboards and synthesisers but possibly not as liberally as they have in this latest effort. ‘What Equals Love’ has gigantic tones of David Bowie in it and features extremely 80’s style guitar work. The same can be said for the opening track ‘What Did We Do To You To Deserve This’, with just as much 80’s flair but with it being a much steadier tune it actually works as a wonderful introduction to the new material, setting you up nicely for what’s to come. This new sound has got ideas of The Smiths, The Cure, Roxy Music and as mentioned David Bowie. All that layered over the classic Maximo Park style of brash indie rock is a winning combination and imagination runs wild when envisioning Paul Smiths stage performance of these new tracks, it’ll certainly be something to see and all the latest material will gel great with classics like ‘Apply Some Pressure’, ‘Hips & Lips’ and ‘Our Velocity’
Harking back to the comparisons to other legendary artists, the similarity between a lot of these is their ability to take social observation and turn it into fantastic music, and there seems to be a lot of that here to. It’s certainly a trend in the music world now to have a pop at the state the world has found itself in whether politically, climatically or socially and Maximo Park have subtly added their two cense with this brand new album. Highlights include the Pixies-esque ‘Work & Then Wait’ the lyrically focused ‘The Hero’ and the endlessly cool ‘Alchemy’ which slows things down a touch and works a little bit more minimally to close the album out just perfectly and bookending the inner content with great effect. ‘Risk To Exist’ is an absolute triumph and with no hesitation, may be the greatest Maximo Park release since 2007’s ‘Our Earthly Pleasures’ which if you’ve ever heard that, you’ll know what a statement that is. Congratulations to Maximo Park, brilliant job.
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)