On the day this album arrived in NME’s oddly malnourished-looking ‘in’ pile, there was a man on television. The man stepped out into Downing Street, held up a battered old briefcase and explained to us why we are all, for the foreseeable future, fucked. “But how can I be fucked?” we hear you proclaim. “I am but a youthful indie fan – how does the recession affect me?” Well, that local five-piece you’ve been getting behind? They’re all hod-carrying or stacking shelves now – it just wasn’t happening, and you know, bills to pay. And that indie label that was hoping to put their debut seven-inch out? Stood by them, mixing the cement or cleaning up on aisle three. In times of recession, luxury items are the first to go, and what are musical artefacts if not luxury items? And risky ones in which to invest at that. This is why, in these times of trouble, we have to look for the bankers. Not the investment fuckers who got us into this mess. No, we mean the bands we can all rely on in times of crisis. Like Maximo Park.
You know everything is going to be OK within seconds of the surging, tidal riffs of ‘Wraithlike’, and what follows is simply a fine-tuning of what the Park have done before. Even when they’re serving up anthemic efforts, such as rabble-rousing single ‘The Kids Are Sick Again’ or the goofball ‘In Another World (You Would’ve Found Yourself By Now)’, there’s still a residual oddness and angularity in their delivery. And there are some intriguing sidesteps from the basic formula too, like in the jarring disco-funk of ‘Let’s Get Clinical’ or the Farfisa-driven garage drone of the magnificent ‘Overland, West Of Suez’. Paul Smith is in great form, taking everyday terms (“I’ve got a bee in my bonnet”, “wipe that smile off your face”) and shooting them through with queasy malevolence.
Presenting, then, the first great album of the latest great recession. Let’s hope there are more to come.