For those in need of some fresh, spritely music as summer approaches and the heat starts to slowly creep up, I suggest turning your attention towards UK indie rockers Maxïmo Park. Their third album, Quciken the Heart, hits stores today, and it is a strong offering from the critically acclaimed quintet. Quicken is a mixture of the band's poppy indie rock and heartfelt, deftly personal lyrics. It is as polished as it is catchy, and it continues the band's tradition of smart, well-balanced rock records.
Maxïmo Park is lead by Paul Smith, one of the most charismatic and energetic live performers in the UK right now. Proving this point is the fact that Maxïmo Park's upcoming tour in support of Quicken sold out in record time. The massive fan base Smith has created for his band stems from his unabashedly honest lyrics, anchored by his yearning, honest to a fault singing style. His British accent is lost in the bevy of his incredibly insightful musings that make for perfect indie rock lyrics. Sure, there's a healthy amount of angst, but the way in which Smith delivers his problems makes for an entertaining and reflective experience.
Quicken the Heart is anchored by the catchy lead single "The Kids are Sick Again," a perfect example of how the band's melodies infiltrate your head with no immediate plans of leaving. The first time I heard the song I just had to put it on again because it was so complex -- yet so simple and catchy -- that I had to see if there was anything I missed. Maxïmo Park's songs can be a bit overwhelming in their arrangements and multifarious melodies -- just when you think you have one of their melodies down, they go and switch gears into another realm of catchiness that seems unfair for just one song. Yet this is a quality of the band that is ultimately endearing and keeps them heads and tails above similar British indie rock bands who emerged on the scene around 2005 with staccato drumming and 80's new wave sensibilities.
The album opener, "Wraithlike," sounds like a B-side from Maxïmo Park's 2005 debut/piece of indie rock spendor A Certain Trigger. It carries Tom English's trademark drumming style with Duncan Lloyd's perfect indie rock guitar (the man is quite the singer, too, as proved on his 2008 solo album Seeing Double). The uptempo theme started off by "Wraithlike" extends througout the length of the album -- it seems the chaps from Newcastle set out to jam as much poppy indie rock into 37 and a half minutes as possible. While the band usually takes some time to slow things down -- as evidenced by songs like "Acrobat" from A Certain Trigger -- they have decided to forge ahead and carry an unfairly upbeat tempo throughout all of Quicken.
The album is rounded out nicely with a bit of a departure from Maxïmo Park's early sound, like the darkish, brooding "Roller Disco Dreams." It's hard for the band to really sound too heavy with Smith's singing style -- something that endeared me to the band that fateful day in May of 2005 when they entered my life and blew my mind with the Mercury Prize-nominated A Certain Trigger. While Quicken the Heart is quite a departure from those heady days, it still resonates with the band's style of play and is another perfect display for Paul Smith's indescribably inspired lyrics. He makes you feel his pain when his voice wavers whilst describing a past heartbreak or other transgression, and that shared experience is what makes Smith such a beloved figure in his native England.
So give Maxïmo Park a try, especially if you haven't heard their earlier stuff and you're looking a joyous romp from one of England's finest indie rock outfits.
Quicken the Heart is out today on Warp Records.
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Head on over to the Maxïmo Park's myspace page to listen to tracks off the new album such as "The Kids Are Sick Again," "Wraithlike," and "Let's Get Clinical."
Please enjoy the video for "The Kids Are Sick Again" and get a feel for Paul Smith's charismatic singing style for yourself: