Maximo Park: Nature Always Wins
The North (East) rises again as Maximo Park return with their latest offering. Nature Always Wins, both offers opinions on some weighty issues while it also sees Paul looking inwards and laying bare his own very personal anxieties.
Musically, this albums sees an additional layer added to the bands trademark energetic art-rock guitar driven sound. Several of the tracks injected with an electronic driven edge. On occasion this sounds like the band have partaken in an unholy union with Peter Gabriel and A-ha (right from the off on opening track Partly of My Making). This is not an unwelcome addition and on tracks like the penultimate Feelings I’m Supposed to Feel, Paul’s vocal takes on a fragile, almost Morten Harket-like feel to it. Elsewhere, dare I say, the majestic soundtrack of closing song, Child of the Flatlands has an almost Vangelis like cinematic sweep to it.
Do You Need a Flag to Know Who You Are?
Don’t get me wrong, this is undoubtedly Maximo Park. The signature angular driving guitars (I Don’t Know What I’m Doing), Paul’s distinct vocal, the sensitively thought through lyrics are all keen to make their presence felt (words like luminosity feeling particularly Maximo Park). There is the welcome addition of another well-kent North Eastern lass by way of Pauline Murray sharing vocal duties on Ardour. A song title in itself which is a great description of the band in an nutshell. The we have Placeholder, which sounds like what REM may have produced if they had originated from Newcastle Upon Tyne instead of Athens, GA.
Perhaps the strongest song on the album, or at least the one that most caught my attention lyrically, is Why Must a Building Burn. Its opening line “Do you need a flag to know who you are?” particularly resonating, before the song goes on to explore the fallout from events like the Grenfell fire. Another stand out track is the single Baby Sleep. With its earworm of a refrain, it is a scenario all parents will be familiar with…These tracks reflecting the diverse but interlinked political and personal strands covered across the songs on the album.
This is another thoroughly absorbing complete and complex piece of work from the always interesting Maximo Park.