“Here’s a song that finally you can understand,” sings frontman Paul Smith as he opens ‘Quicken The Heart’. Maxïmo Park want people to sit up and listen, and their third record could be the one that people can’t escape from.
Angular guitars and sing-along melodies propelled them to success, while Smith’s arresting lyrical twists (and wonderfully oddball dance moves) ensured they weren’t lost in the throng of imitators. ‘Quicken The Heart’ will fill floors and minds, but things are darker than before. Opening track ‘Wraithlike’ talks of faded memories and lost love, and lead single ‘The Kids Are Sick Again’ paints a despairing picture of a time when nothing seems worthwhile. Musically, too, there’s anger and gloom in the album.
Building on the post-punk influences that have served them so well, the band sharpen their riffs with some Gang Of Four-inspired manoeuvres and launch into a Joy Division bassline on second track ‘The Penultimate Clinch’. Luckily they haven’t lost their knack for writing an infectious tune, and the album packs more punch than their previous long-player, ‘Our Earthly Pleasures’.
Though they’ve confidently conquered the tricky third album, Maxïmo Park haven’t really changed their formula since their debut. If ‘Apply Some Pressure’ and ‘Graffiti’ didn’t do it for you then there’s not a lot here that will change your mind. But momentum is a useful thing, and there are always new listeners waiting to be impressed. While their last album shot to number two in the charts, they could now be poised to go right to the top and become one of the summer’s essential bands.