To describe Maximo Park in one word: Reliable. Immediately sparked are all sorts of negative connotations- ‘reliable means dull’, ‘undeveloped’, ‘they’re still producing the same songs they were ten years ago’. These assumptions from the word reliable could not be further from the truth. Yes, Too Much Information has been released within a very dependable 2-year time span since their last album and yes, the album does sound precisely like a ‘Maximo Park’ album, but this should be considered no bad thing. Five albums down the line Maximo Park have managed to deliver an album that encapsulates everything that made them great when A Certain Trigger came out in 2005, yet still shows the growth of a maturing band. The tantalisingly clever lyrics and unique electro-angular sound that makes up the band are still prominent, yet subtly evolved.
A lot of thought has clearly been put into the contemplative, miscellaneous lyrics that make up Too Much Information, the complexity of Leave This Island provokes all kinds of questions and wonders, whereas Drinking Martinis soulfully describes feelings of missing an old drinking buddy. Hours and hours could be spent trying to unravel the thought process of the literary aspect of the album.
Musically, however, the overall feeling is admittedly, mixed. At parts the album dips into a repetitive electronic merge of songs. Unexciting, synthy melodies with vocals that sound like they’ve been recorded underwater, are probably the reasons why Maximo Park have been regarded critically to have underwhelmed since their second album Our Earthly Pleasures was released in 2008. That isn’t to discredit Paul Smith’s countless attmepts at moving the band leftfield from their more mainstream origins, his determination to access a new sound is what keeps Maximo Park afloat.
Worries of Maximo Park being a band past their peak are sadly not demolished by Too Much Information. It’s not that the songs have got any worse, it’s just that it takes a bit more effort to be overwhelmed by the band’s music, and in the delightful age of today, many simply are just not bothered by what “that band who were big in 2007” are doing now. The uninspiring and drifitng Brain Cells sums up exactly why the Newcastle band are still, 14 years into their career, confined to small 02 academy gigs and humdrum festival slots.
Nonetheless very few albums can be regarded as perfect and in fact the many moments of magic that help to build up Too much Information might even outweigh the relative drone. The first single off the album Leave This Island is laden with upbeat synth-keyboard beats, which can only be complemented by its catchy yet compelling and romantic lyrics – you can practically hear hearts breaking as Paul Smith’s soulfully repeats “I’ll stand up for you” towards the latter part of the song.
Album opener Give, Get, Take’is a treat for those fans that were first won over by Books From Boxes and Girls Who Play Guitars– its fast-paced definitive guitar band sound is no less vibrant and exciting than the exalted, chart-topping singles that originally made Maximo Park, Maximo Park.
‘Midnight On The Hill’ demonstrates a catchy rhythm with lyrics, once again, flawlessly delivered by Paul Smith in such an assured and authoritative manor that we are left questioning what is budding underneath the surface of this complicated band, what is coming next?
Maximo Park are indeed a band you can depend on to deliver good albums time and time again. Too Much Information is teeming with that classic Maximo Park sound, often described as a ‘Smiths-esq’ and ‘angular’, yet the music is now subtly more precise, lyrics are more meaningful which creates repercussions of a moodier , deeper sound. Although having debatably surpassed their best days – or more popular days, at least, this can only be blamed on the current time, because the magic behind the music is most definitely still there. The soft melody of end-track ‘Where We’re Going’ shows a contemplative Maximo Park, and begs us to question also, where are they going? Hopefully nowhere far.
Reliability isn’t always a bad thing, yes, Maximo Park are no longer the exciting fresh faced and single faceted band of old, they have grown with their audience. This display of muso confidence and conossouerial techniques has granted the band further life and they will continue to entertain their ageing audience until reliability turns into mortality.