Record review: Maxïmo Park – Too Much Information (2014, LP)

The English quintet of Maxïmo Park have never been the most major of players in the alternative and indie-rock scenes, but this self-produced fifth album since their 2000 formation finds them in confident form. The band’s debut A Certain Trigger was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2005 and sold 300,000 copies, and since then some of their output has flown somewhat under the radar, but this twelve-track collection is well worth a listen. Seemingly freed from the shackles of being solely a guitar band, the Newcastle gang have broadened their sound; ‘Brain Cells’ and the excellent ‘Leave This Island’ are electronic ballads with no guitars whatsoever, and ‘Drinking Martinis’ is a lilting tale of love, loss and alcohol. Singer Paul Smith likes to make literary references in his lyrics, and here he has gone beyond just hinting at them with direct references to Audre Lorde on ‘Her Name Was Audre’ and Lydia Davis on ‘Lydia, The Ink Will Never Dry’. While the album proper is a decent effort in itself, the real gold is to be found in the bonus tracks on the deluxe edition. The Fall’s sprightly ‘Edinburgh Man’ is reworked as ‘Middlesbrough Man’ in honour of Smith’s home turf, and while on paper it always seems like a bad idea to cover Nick Drake or Leonard Cohen, the band pull it off nicely with ‘Northern Sky’ and ‘Lover, Lover, Lover’ respectively. There’s nothing groundbreaking or massively memorable on show here, but this is another decent effort from a band classier than most. (Warp)

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