Album review: Maximo Park, Our Earthly Pleasures
It’s almost impossible to read a Maximo Park review without a lazy mention of The Futureheads.
But though the neighbours from the North East of England emerged on the scene at a similar time just over a couple of years ago, only one of those bands is able to make a record as sophisticated as Our Earthly Pleasures.
From the crunching, addictive guitar riffs of opener Girls Who Play Guitars to the withering end of the touching Parisian Skies, the band show there is more to them than a post-punk or pop-punk label suggests.
This follow-up to 2005’s Mercury-nominated Certain Triggers is perhaps a little light on tub-thumping hits that lit up Maximo Park’s debut album, but there’s enough intelligent songwriting here to re-accelerate the band’s rise.
Our Earthly Pleasures – First listen, track by track
1. Girls Who Play Guitars
Lively opener with a catchy guitar riff. Optimistic, summery tune. Nice to hear front man Paul Smith hasn’t lost his Geordie accent. This has to be the next single.
2. Our Velocity
The single. It’s almost impossible not to dance to this.
3. Books From Boxes
From the jangly guitar of the opening chords, this track takes the foot off the gas after a pumping start to the album.
4. Russian Literature
A musically rich track, beautifully put together, with picture-painting lyrics . . . about what? I’m not sure.
5. Karaoke Plays
Another mid-tempo offering and a little forgettable. Maybe it’s a grower, with a pretty bass line and the sound of a “nice” Britpop single. It’s becoming clear this is a more reflective record than Certain Triggers.
6. Your Urge
The record is falling into laid-back mode. Smith opens by singing: “You don’t have to deny your urge.” I resist the urge to skip and the track grows into a touching song about drunken love.
7. The Unshockable
MP pick up the pace with a bit of social commentary which is more akin to the post-punk reputation they’ve earned.
8. By The Monument
A sad love song sung with real feeling and with the best use of piano complementing guitars on the album – this sounds like a future single.
Back in the middle lane with more troubled love, but this track’s quirky structure is enough to make it interesting.
10. A Fortnight’s Time
An off-beat, confident track with the most unlikely of chorus lines: “Five times five is twenty-five. Don’t you know you’re times tables by now.”
11. Sandblasted And Set Free
Instantly listenable, though it’s hard to explain why. The verses are just lists of words – MP probably think this is really avant-garde – saved by a poppy chorus.
12. Parisian Skies
Just when you think the album is going out on another slow tune, this track kicks in with an enthusiastic drum beat to give life to this lament to “Rebecca”.
Our Velocity – the video