Our Earthly Pleasures
Well, well, well.the dreaded second album.make or break time. Now that's true for all acts, but it is even more relevant for Maximo Park. 'Why!?' I hear you cry.well they're signed to the great Warp Records, and though this is by no means a disadvantage, but there is a hoard of Warp purists who are sceptical of their signing of Maximo Park. So, as you can probably gather, they have more to make up for than the usual band. So, here it comes, 'Our Earthly Pleasures'.but is it going to meet the earthly pleasures of, not only the fan base they've amassed from 'A Certain Trigger', but the sceptical Warp heads? Well, lets see.
'Girls Who Play Guitars' opens things up and it's very obvious from the start that nothing major has changed in their sound. Lyrically very similar, melodies haven't really changed all that much.but what's this? A vocal harmony? Surely this is the influence of producer Gil Norton, who has worked with the likes of Feeder, The Pixies and The Counting Crows. Now, despite being something of a Warp purist myself, I really enjoyed the first album, and I've come to find myself enjoying this album as well, but in a much different way. This album is less obvious than the first one, none of the tracks are obvious singles, and there's a lot more in terms of musicianship. Songs like 'Russian Literature' are prime examples of the inspired use of instrumentation. The Smiths influence that was apparent in the first album, comes and goes in this album, often being overtaken for a much bigger sound.
Now where one might have expected these guys to stick to their guns, given the success of their debut, they have instead matured, and not just a little bit. Now I've heard people say they're just softening their sound for the mainstream, but if their debut did so well, why would that be the case? What is actually happening on this, is the band are expanding on their sound, less about simplistic riffs and more about the layering of instruments to create a much richer sound, and whilst lead singer Paul Smith has been honing his pop writing skills, this does not in anyway water things down. 'Your Urge', lyrically, is the finest moment on OWP, drenching the rhythm with a vocabulary that shouldn't work, but does.
Okay then, what have we learned? Well these guys really have produced the perfect follow up album, and whilst its not as instant as the first album, I feel this will cement their longevity, and shatter and preconceptions about them being another fleeting indie band. That said however, I don't feel it's really enough to convince the Warp purists. So, maybe it's time to accept that Warp has changed, and give these guys the chance they deserve without tarring them with the brush of Warp's past. Just kick back and enjoy them.