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Maximo Park - Risk To Exist (Album Review)

Wednesday, 26 April 2017 Written by Ben Gallivan

Prior to the release of their 2014 album ‘Too Much Information’, Maxïmo Park’s lead vocalist Paul Smith said: “Our lyrics and our music will never be too-cool-for-school - we are an emotional band even if it might be too much information for some.” Never has a truer word been spoken.

One may think that such a cliched, self-deprecating statement would be a cover-up for a lacklustre record, but ‘Too Much Information’ wasn’t all that bad. Perhaps, though, it was a warning of things to come, as a dearth of excitement and ideas has manifested itself on the band’s sixth LP, ‘Risk to Exist’.

Maxïmo Park have turned their political agenda up to 11 here. According to Smith “the central idea is to align great pop melodies with songs that reflect the state of the nation.” They’re not happy about the west’s reaction to the refugee crisis, they’re proper pissed off with the Tory government and by golly they’re going to tell us all about it.

The main issue is that the songs are so evenly-paced, so irritatingly bland, that it doesn’t sound so much like a protest record, rather a bunch of men of a certain age putting the world to rights down at their local.

Yes, 12 years or so have passed since their blistering debut, ‘A Certain Trigger’, and we’re all a little older, but the band seem to have had the spiky, urgent element to their music ripped out. It’s precisely the opposite of what you want when dealing with subject matter such as political alienation and despair.

Now officially a quartet, Maxïmo Park seem to have lost a dimension, relying heavily on uninspiring synths to push most of the album forward. The title track - and lead single - dropped in January to a fanbase eager for more, but it’s by far the standout here and features a very much out of place Mimi Parker (of Low) on backing vocals. She pops up again several times on the record but her sweet, ethereal vocals don’t manage to put a positive spin on the songs.

Paul Smith’s vocal style has always been an acquired taste but, given that the volume has been turned down elsewhere, it is now very much at the forefront and can get a little tiresome after a few songs. Take the title track and a few other songs and you’ve got yourself a decent EP, but as a longer body of work ‘Risk to Exist’ doesn’t represent the correct change of direction that the band needed to take.

Maximo Park Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun April 30 2017 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Fri May 05 2017 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Sat May 06 2017 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Mon May 08 2017 - ABERDEEN Lemon Tree
Tue May 09 2017 - GLASGOW O2 ABC Glasgow
Wed May 10 2017 - SHEFFIELD Leadmill
Fri May 12 2017 - LONDON Royal Festival Hall
Sat May 13 2017 - BEXHILL ON SEA De La Warr Pavilion
Mon May 15 2017 - CAMBRIDGE Cambridge Junction
Tue May 16 2017 - CARDIFF Tramshed
Wed May 17 2017 - FALMOUTH Princess Pavilion
Fri May 19 2017 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall

Click here to compare & buy Maximo Park Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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