Maximo Park

“….and then I’ll tell you some more about ME”.

Paul Smith is still Dr Sardonicus even as he moves on to the poetaster mode of “Night falls and towns become circuit boards”. Flat North-Eastern vocals niggle behind, as do the keyboards, peeping and tooting. Guitars chime in a gentler way than last outing. This is a gentler affair, less mid-air explosions; Paul Smith in a reflective mood, but as dryly acerbic as ever.

Paul thinks of this as a less clichéd, more emotional record that he wants to affect people. It’s full of love songs, songs of loss, of dark Northern skies, rain and train journeys. Hardly ground anyone can safely traverse without slipping on a little cliché. It seems Paul has waited up late for lovers who couldn’t come home – Karaoke Plays is the very sad tale of your lover run down and killed.

I find it hard to bring many words to this – I loved the impact of Maximo Park’s first album and this is a development, a deepening. Still the sonic headrush of songs like The Unshockable and still the commentary of Paul’s voice. Here, though, he seems a little more gentle and accepting. By The Monument catalogues the snapshot memories that constitute a love affair (his consist, it appears, of “defacing pictures of famous people on the train”). A piano echoes quiet but loud, behind a curtain of guitar riffing in a display of subtle production flattering the song without showing off.

It seems a year on tour has dispelled some of the sexual tension of Paul’s early songs, while bringing a longing for simpler times. Meanwhile the band has grown closer and tighter, circling in a less elbow-sharp manoevre to a family huddle – complex but familiar. This is a worthy successor and companion to the first set and it makes me happy they can do a longer live set now – if only I can find the energy for all the jumping about that requires.

“Parisian skies,
Shadows beneath your eyes
All we have is now”

Ross McGibbon