Maximo Park Our Earthly Pleasures(Warp) Buy it from Insound
They're not your average Warp Records offspring, but then Maximo Park
aren't the atypical fringe-driven beat combo, either. Their debut album, A Certain Trigger showed a band with promise and ability, perhaps a little too frightened to distance themselves from genre-flitting comrades The Futureheads. But since the aforementioned's relative sophomore flop, Paul Smith and his merrily jangular men have been given some space to do their own thing. Judging from Our Earthly Pleasures, they seem willing to do this with great aplomb.
Their first LP was a statement of intent, regarding their eloquence in both wry turn of phrase and stonking pieces of music. In this respect, their second is similar, but not totally. Where two years ago, Maximo Park's noise was as rough and urgent as the intimate venues they entertained, nowadays they're ready to the fill the larger spaces of vast music halls, with a whoppingly slick sound to boot. Lead single Our Velocity is a fantastically radio-friendly bumper pack of melodic hooks and key changes - no bad thing at all - and it provides one of a few highlights throughout a rapidly fluctuating journey. Careful, though - a lot of material on this disc could be described as 'filler' or 'epic' in equal measures.
Smith's delivery throughout is honest and able. 'Honest' here refers to tales of 'real life' trials/tribulations/public transport etc etc. 'Able' here refers to some clever words (e.g. 'paradigm') and a rudimentary command of simple arithmetic, a skill often overlooked in their field of work, (see A Fortnight's Time's "five times five equals twenty-five//don't you know your times tables by now?"). Simply put, this frontman provides a thoughtful (and marketable) alternative to the attempts of others to explain The Real World, and it's a generally effective ploy. Endearing without being condescending, you wouldn't mind taking him home to explain trade deficits and whatnot. That said, there are plenty of 'wooooah's and 'oh-oh-oh's to pleasure the more shallow of us.
Yes, pleasure. That's what is going on here. Avoiding disillusionment with the music industry and all that palaver, Maximo Park have stuck to a trusty songwriting machine and some welcome social commentary without being intrusive. It's an engaging listen, sure, but sadly Our Earthly Pleasures lacks the euphoric punch to make a listener jump up and down vigourously. The wonderful lead single has been a largely misleading one, but the album as a whole illustrates a canny ability to flicker between emotions. Sad, happy, thoughtful. A bit like life, apparently.2 April, 2007 - 08:57 — Richard Bendall-Jones