Maximo Park return with their first full length studio album in nearly four years as they release Nature Always Wins. It's close to 16 years since Maximo Park released their stunning, Mercury nominated, debut album, A Certain Trigger, with this their latest marking their seventh studio album to date. The Newcastle and Liverpool based band have been busy during lockdown putting the finishing touches to their new album with the help of Grammy award winner, Ben Allen, the new "fourth member" of the group.
Of the twelve tracks on the album four have already been released as singles; the album's closing track, Child Of The Flatlands, Baby Sleep and I Don't Know What I'm Doing from September onwards last year and more recently this year, All Of Me. The twelve selected tracks were chosen from the forty that the band were tasked with writing by their chosen producer. Duncan Lloyd explains, "we did everything from Why Must A Building Burn, which was acoustic-based, through to Meeting Up, which was synth-based. We could go electronic, we could go avant garde. And that helped us get to the tracks we eventually settled on."
Partly Of My Making is the opening track on Maximo Park's latest album and serves as a fitting introduction to an album that has a real buzz and energy about it. This is by no means the most immediate or commercial of the tracks on Nature Always Wins, that is more aptly characterised by the band's current single, All Of Me, but it does encapsulate the latest incarnation of Maximo Park's sound. The strong melodies and hooks are still present throughout the entire record but more than any other of their more recent albums this one has an irrepressible and undeniable lust for life. Paul Smith's vocals are crisper than ever before with a clarity to the production that lets each component part shine through.
Maximo Park continue to provide a great deal of social commentary within their songs, from the lead single, and close out track, Child Of The Flatlands with it's great guitar solo and more melancholic vocal treatment through to the reflective reminiscence of the captivating, Versions Of You. The story telling that unfolds across Nature Always Wins is some of the best that Maximo Park have ever imparted.
There is a vibrancy within each song on Nature Always Wins from the pumping, anthemic rhythms of Paceholder, the Post-Punk retro of The Acid Remark, with it's shredded guitar riffs, to the electro based synth scored Meeting Up. Smith adapts his voice deftly to each of the scenarios each song presents and Allen, albeit 4000 miles away for the most part, has done a very skilful job of mixing and arranging each song together.
There is empathy and tenderness coupled with a spirited, energised performance on Maximo Park's new album but there is above all else something undeniably vital and vivacious about it making it an irresistible record.