There are enough reasons at the moment to hate society and every single worthless, piece of shit, twatface person in it. To that end, it’s commendable to know the mighty Maximo Park, part swooning North-East Morrissey bibiophiles, part vulnerable Conor Oberst confessionalists complete with heart-in-throat voice quavers are still, unfalteringly, sensitive, good eggs.
However, on Risk to Exist, their sixth(!) album, I sort of wish they’d just created a Tumblr if they wanted to get this shit off their chest so literally, and concentrated more on writing some BANGING CHOONS like the literal millions they have under their belt already.
Initially turning heads with subtle but disarmingly accurate missives on intimacy, love and self-reflection, while simultaneously smacking you round the chops with several elegiac choruses after the other (often within the same song), this time Maximo Park are mad. They’re mad as hell. Well, mad enough to make an album full of wincingly on-the-nose songs about Brexit, the migrant crisis, Syria, benefits sanctions and Nigel Farage, largely set to a backdrop of insipid, nondescript-ish funk jams.
Risk to Exist the title track is promising enough, containing the classic sonic about-turns, close to the bone observations and warm synths the Park have perfected since A Certain Trigger in 2005. Profits from the single and accompanying video went to a migrant charity aiding rescue efforts at sea; call it Brexit Music (for a Film)*
What Equals Love is more classic MP, a bollocks-and-fannies out disco stomper on the well-worn subject of the mystery behind lasting relationships (although silly Paul Smith – we all know the equation for love is desperation, loneliness and the fear of dying alone ).
However, I’m not gonna lie: I didn’t enjoy this album and most of the lyrics just made me cringe. I don’t mean to get all Katie Hopkins about this, I reeeally don’t, but I feel little enjoyment in a record so worthy and self-conscious, with none of the urgency or excitement of the usual Maximo Park experience. It is a disappointing album – especially since their last album, Too Much Information, was fantastic.
In the recent past, Everything Everything‘s peerless Get to Heaven was a masterpiece of spittled, moving lunacy at the horrors of the world, and the new British Sea Power album is also a graceful example of a band of auteurs adjusting their gaze from their own inner world to reacting to the constant concrete punches to the face of life in the world today without resorting to David Brent-tier cringe antics.
One of Maximo Park’s most popular songs, My Velocity, shows they’re perfectly capable of tackling the issues of the day – in this case Britiain’s recent wars – with wit and a lightness of touch (“are you willing to resist?/for people you’ve never met/the devil’s wheel revolves/but it needs to be reset”) pretty much absent from Risk to Exist.
Without any sort of bite or weight to these songs, this protest album is nearly as inane and banal as some Tory shitbag saying Brexit means Brexit adnaseum with no extra plan to follow it through.
*I know that didn’t really make sense in context, but I’ve thought of it now so it’s going in the review. DON’T STEAL IT. DON’T STEAL IT. (c) Laura Prior 25/04/2017 DON’T STEAL IT.