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Max´mo Park - Nature Always Wins (Album Review)

Wednesday, 03 March 2021 Written by Graeme Marsh

Very few things put a band on the map in the UK quite like a Mercury Prize nomination, which Maxïmo Park secured with their zeitgeisty post-punk debut ‘A Certain Trigger’ in 2005. Since that hyped up burst of energy bounded into the room, though, the group have walked along similar lines, releasing five albums without quite being able to eclipse that initial pumped-up breath of fresh air. With ‘Nature Always Wins’, though, we have something pretty exciting on our hands.

Now operating primarily as a trio for the first time, here the band find a little more freedom. With producer Ben Allen based in Atlanta the album was constructed like a long-distance jigsaw puzzle thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, which was perhaps an even bigger challenge than Allen’s request for 40 songs to play with.

The single Baby, Sleep captures the tribulations of parenthood from the perspective of singer Paul Smith, boasting an earworm chorus delivered in his distinctive north-east drawl.

Another fatherhood-inspired cut, I Don’t Know What I’m Doing, folds a humble confession into a classic Maxïmo Park moment, and there are plenty of other tracks here that hark back to their trademark sound.

A jangly guitar riff pops up during the hideously catchy Placeholder, Ardour benefits from a guest turn by Penetration’s Pauline Murray and opener Partly of My Making pairs warm synth chords with verses that recall Peter Gabriel as Smith admits “my metabolism’s not what it used to be”. Versions of You, meanwhile, is arguably their finest track for years, driven by an infectiously racing chorus.

But there’s so much more here, and many of the LP’s finest moments occur when Maxïmo Park take their foot off the pedal. Meeting Up’s intro could be from a Future Islands classic while the impressive All Of Me, a track co-written with producer Allen, also shows more restraint than they’re renowned for. Its catchy keyboard riff is a treat. 

Feelings I’m Supposed To Feel and the brooding closer Child of the Flatlands also shave something off the tempo, with the former outstanding as energy is replaced by emotion and the latter perhaps the most majestic moment here. This is the sound of a band that’s matured like a fine wine. Coming some 16 years after that compelling first statement, ‘Nature Always Wins’ might just be Maxïmo Park’s best album since ‘A Certain Trigger’.

Maximo Park Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat March 06 2021 - VIRTUAL EVENT Riverside
Tue June 08 2021 - BRISTOL Trinity
Wed June 09 2021 - LONDON EartH
Thu June 10 2021 - LONDON EartH
Sat June 12 2021 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Sun June 13 2021 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Boiler Shop
Tue June 15 2021 - SHEFFIELD Leadmill
Wed June 16 2021 - GLASGOW Saint Luke's
Thu June 17 2021 - BIRMINGHAM Birmingham The Mill
Tue August 24 2021 - DUNDEE Fat Sams
Wed August 25 2021 - EDINBURGH Liquid Rooms
Sat August 28 2021 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Sun August 29 2021 - PRESTON Blitz
Mon August 30 2021 - LIVERPOOL Arts Club
Wed September 01 2021 - COVENTRY Empire
Thu September 02 2021 - OXFORD O2 Academy2 Oxford
Fri September 03 2021 - SOUTHAMPTON Brook
Sun September 05 2021 - BEXHILL ON SEA De La Warr Pavilion
Mon September 06 2021 - NORWICH Waterfront
Tue September 07 2021 - KINGSTON Pryzm
Wed September 08 2021 - LEEDS Beckett University
Mon September 13 2021 - MANCHESTER Academy 2

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