Maximo Park - 'The National Health'

by CoraOMalley
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on 02 June 2012 in Albums & EPs
Record Label V2
Rating 8/10

For Maximo Park, it was looking like a case of 'three strikes and you're out'. 'Quicken the Heart' was met with a mixed reception, and so too was Paul Smith's solo album 'Margins'. After three years, the band return with a make-or-break album, which they've decided is also their 'state of the nation' address. Er, no pressure? Thankfully, the hiatus seems to have revitalised them. The brief introduction 'When I Was Wild' lays out the album's theme, before things are stepped up a gear or three with the uptempo title track. As things go on, it becomes clear that while some things have changed - 'Unfamiliar Places' is far more than the 'token acoustic song', it's one of the best things they've ever written - some have remained the same; their diverse approach to making music remains unchanged, as the dark and unsettling 'Banlieue' rubs shoulders with the power-pop of 'Until The Earth Would Open' and the piano-driven 'This Is What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted'; in the same way, Smith's lyrics are as good as ever, with 'The Undercurrents' being a particular standout. The quality remains high throughout, too. Maximo Park are once again in rude health.

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