Music Reviews
Too Much Information

Maxϊmo Park Too Much Information

(Daylighting) Rating - 6/10

“You know where we’re going”, sings Paul Smith in his Northern drool during the rather mundane album closer Where We’re Going, but in all honesty it’s hard to tell these days. When the band emerged from the North of England in 2005 with debut A Certain Trigger, the energy and excitement they managed to emit from the recordings endeared them to many, with standout moments including single Apply Some Pressure and the hugely enjoyable stop start romp Going Missing.

Follow up Our Earthly Pleasures continued the momentum, reaching number two in the UK album chart but the focus was already starting to shift from the post-punk vigour of the debut, with the more concentrated Books From Boxes taking most of the plaudits, pushing more anticipated efforts such as Our Velocity into second place in the process. Somewhere along the line, the band introduced keyboards into the mix and much of the early raw edge was lost, with only the occasional track recalling the increasingly distant, explosive debut.

The new offering encompasses both old and new, and – rather surprisingly – often exceeds expectations, although those expectations are probably a little lower nowadays as despite showing so much promise in their early career, they never really scaled the heights they initially seemed destined for. The overflowing energy of old is still there in patches: galloping cymbals and ensuing drums introduce the album through Give, Get, Take as the band harness their exciting spark. Swirling, occasionally melodic synths float above as the track walks the path Maximo Park have often been down before, with the fine line between enjoyably catchy and annoyingly irritating all but disappearing entirely.

Spiky, icy guitars smatter the short two minute burst of I Recognise The Light alongside a driving rhythm section as Smith repeats “it keeps me up all night”; the jittery spontaneity of some of the instrumentation throughout, coupled with the repeated lyrics are likely to do just that if listened to immediately before you turn in for the night. The punky Her Name Was Audre represents another small injection of high octane energy with more erratic instrumentation causing chaos before cheesy synths lead to its conclusion. With much of the lyricism focusing on relationship troubles, My Bloody Mind complains “why do I long for a life that I already have” during a rather middling, mid tempo effort whilst the upbeat Lydia, The Ink Will Never Dry benefits from catchy angular guitar riffs, declaring the challenging statement “you’re fooling yourself you feel settled”Dave Okumu of The Invisible produced the first taster from the album – Brain Cells – and it shows as the band is barely recognisable: a slow, echoing vocal appears with minimal percussion before spacey, atmospheric synths swirl into action for the most diverse track on the collection.

The record’s real highlights come in various guises: a foreboding guitar line opens Drinking Martinis, preceding a melodic piano line, mellow vocals and then fuzzy guitar riffage as one of the most harmonious songs takes shape – a resigned effort hinting at reflection. The theme continues with the almost majestic Leave This Island, a largely electronic affair with bubbly synths and impressive vocal melody; the track picks up speed for its finale but a failure to inject some vocal passion into proceedings, perhaps at a higher octave, agonisingly holds the track back from being a classic. The title quoting Midnight On The Hill bounces along at mid tempo once again before a gradual crescendo leads into the chorus, with the aforementioned missing vocal fervour this time appearing in splendour. The song repeats the formula after a quiet mid section to complete another highlight.

Too Much Information sounds more like a collection of tracks from different moments in their career than a fully cohesive whole but perhaps this isn’t such a bad thing. Fans of the early sound as well as newcomers should find plenty here to like, but perhaps not to love.