Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Maximo Park’s “Quicken the Heart”

Rarely has there been so much controversy about an album in the RSL writer’s team that I am a member of, than about this one. Long-standing friendships have ended, bitter words have been thrown, violence has ensued, lawyers have been called… well, a few of us have sent some sarcastic emails to each other at least. I must give credit for his wit to one other writer on the team, who is otherwise a big fan of the band, for renaming them “Minimo Park” after hearing this album.

How can I defend MAXimo Park from ‘vicious’ attacks like this? Well, in all seriousness, “Quicken the Heart,” Maximo Park’s third album, is possibly the best new music I have heard in the last six months. New is perhaps a strange word to use, because “Quicken the Heart” harkens back to a lot of older music, particularly from the 80s. It’s an album that is heavy with vintage synths and clean guitar hooks. The pacing of the songs too, has something about it that makes you feel like you’re watching a band who aren’t aware that they could play harder with a drum machine, and so achieve every ounce of energy they produce by simply throwing themselves at their instruments. Having seen them live (and they will be back at Paradise on 20th Sept, so you can too!), I can imagine them doing just that as they play these tracks.

This band has a star performer though, who lifts them from just good melodies and interesting hooks, to something really remarkable. Singer Paul Smith writes songs of love and romance that seem vintage like the rest of the band. I would hold Smith’s lyrical abilities up against anyone writing today though. He then sings these fantastic, emotive lines with a voice that sounds so desperately strained that even those with a heart of stone begin to wilt under the pressure. There is so much sadness in this music, but so much celebration of life too: of affairs loved but now over (“Tanned”), of brief, beautiful moments held between lovers (“Questing, not Coasting”), and of the excitement of fledgling relationships (“I Haven’t Seen Her in Ages”).

This is probably not the best album this band has produced, but, like a new summer romance, I can see nothing but the beauty of my current love.


Scaricari said...

Dude, I loved this! Well done. Now I'm extra glad that their cd is on my list of "Things That I Am Going To Buy Once I Get A Job"...

Anonymous said...

Maybe they could play this song about Sarah Palin's upcoming memoir?


(sung to The Beatles song “Paperback Writer”)

Paperback writer (paperback writer)

Dear Rush and Coulter, will you read my tome?
It took a year to write in my Wasilla home
It’s based on the life of a political hack
And I take a few shots at old Johnny Mac as a paperback writer,
Paperback writer

A book of topics that I want a say on,
Which I wrote with finger-paints and a crayon.
It was edited by Todd the school drop-out,
He can’t read too well but he wants to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

Paperback writer (paperback writer)

It’s got twenty pages give or take a few,
And it has some pictures that Piper drew.
I threw in an old joke that Bristol once told
It’s a real page turner and I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer

My new book will appeal to those on the right
And everyone that is straight, racist and white.
Bill O’Reilly will love it, please have no fear,
I sure needed a boost and now I can be a paperback writer.
Paperback writer

Paperback writer (paperback writer)

Paperback writer – paperback writer
Paperback writer – paperback writer