Newcastle indie-rockers Maximo Park are back with their fifth, powerful studio album – Too Much Information. Although it’s only been eighteen months since the release of their last offering, The National Health, this five-piece (and once Mercury Prize-nominated band) haven’t been sitting around with their feet up. What was initially intended to be a 5-track EP recorded in Sunderland, eventually turned into a fully-formed album, with the extra tracks recorded at the band’s Newcastle recording studio.
The album as a whole has an assortment of genres entwined within its tunes; alternative rock, indie rock, post-punk, 80’s synth rock (with the occasional Depeche Mode feel to it) – all of which is held firmly together by the vast array of musical talent and flawless production on display. Throughout Too Much Information, lead singer Paul Smith demonstrates his full vocal range; raw, smooth, passive, even aggressive at times, and yet very melodic and fresh. Archis Tiku and Tom English on bass and drums keep the rhythms balanced and energetic. However, it’s Yorkshireman Lukas Woller on keys who pulls the album together and gives it both momentum and a solid direction that fans of Maximo Park will relish and enjoy.
‘Give, Get, Take’ is a fast-paced, head-nodding album opener; thrashing drums and a driving beat provide the backbone to a strong start for the band, before they drop the tempo completely for the electro-pop, keyboard dominated ‘Brain Cells’ (which is definitely one of those ‘love it or hate it’, Marmite songs). ‘Leave This Island’, on the other hand, is a tracks that will be vying for radio airplay – a very catchy rhythm, and lyrics that actually don’t contain too much information, will have listeners finger-tapping and singing along. ‘Is It True’ is one of the many tracks that have the 80’s coursing through their seams. DM and OMD influences hover subtly in the background, while Smith’s at times haunting vocals rest at the fore. His Northern Twang makes an appearance on ‘Lydia, The Ink Will Never Dry’ (keep an ear open for the lyric “I don’t know about you”). ‘I Recognise The Light’ and ‘Where We’re Going’ may need more than a few plays before they sink in, both being at opposite ends of the album’s spectrum in sound and feel.
Too Much Information’s strength lies in two stand-out tracks. First is ‘My Bloody Mind’, with excellent song writing going hand-in-hand with conjoined vocal styles. They drop the synths in favour of piano, and when you add in Duncan Lloyd’s brilliant but not overpowering guitar playing, it’s no wonder Maximo Park have such a dedicated fan base – they’ll love this song. Second, ‘Drinking Martinis’ – you have to like this one just for the title if nothing else, although it is another musically exceptional song – well crafted and well presented.
On reflection there are a myriad of emotions in both the lyrics and music on this album – perhaps the title conveys this. It has vibrant, stand-out tracks alongside slower songs that have an almost con dolore feel to them. Of the album, Smith said, “Our lyrics and our music will never be too-cool-for-school.” They may not consider themselves ‘cool’, but Too Much Information is still well worth a listen and, for those who need it, provides an excellent introduction to Maximo Park.
Too Much Information is released on February 3rd via V2 Records.