When Maxïmo Park scissor-kicked their way on to the indie scene in the mid-’00s alongside the likes of Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs, The Rakes, Franz Ferdinand and fellow north-east rivals The Futureheads, they came armed with a debut album crammed full of killer pop tunes.
Back then frontman Paul Smith was a bowling bookworm of energy, documenting his quest for romance in the face of rejection on 2005’s ‘A Certain Trigger’. Over the last 15 years, the Newcastle five-piece have managed to evolve with the times, tipping their trilby to classic synth pop (‘Too Much Information’) and ’80s funk on their last album, 2017’s ‘Risk To Exist’.
While their indie-pop reputation has remained relatively intact despite the departure of two members, the Geordie misfits have never quite recaptured the poetic punch of that first record. Until now. In ‘Nature Always Wins’, the trio, come bounding back with a pop sizzling firecracker of an album. Fist-pumping comeback single ‘All Of Me’ has already come kung fu kicking out of the blocks with its driving Killers-style synth line and hook-laden chorus, which finds Smith in fine voice as he declares: “This song is where you belong / This is all of me / If I can’t include you / If art is apart / Well then I disagree“.
Then there’s bombastic opener ‘Party Of My Making’, an epic song that sees the charismatic frontman struggling to come to terms with growing old. “As you can clearly see, I’ve lost some luminosity,” he yearns over a stomping drum beat and soaring strings before he defiantly mopes: “To crown the irritation / To soothe the situation / It’s partly of my making and if there’s muck I’ll do the raking”.
‘Meeting Up’ incorporates the synth-pop formula Maxïmo Park explored on 2014’s ‘Too Much Information’, with nods to both early Depeche Mode and Future Islands. And the brutal but jarringly upbeat ‘Why Must A Building Burn’, inspired by the horrific events at Grenfell Tower in 2017, sees the band angrily hit out at those in power who often wait for tragedy to strike before taking action. Smith powerfully asks: “Why must a building burn before the lesson is learned?.”
Aside from this one harrowing moment, ‘Nature Always Wins’ is very much an album packed with joyful pop songs and introspective anthems.
Release date: February 26
Record label: Prolifica Inc