Maximo Park - Our Earthly Pleasures

Max´mo Park formed in Newcastle , Tyne and Wear in April 2003 , their name adapted from Maximo Gomez Park, a Havana meeting place for Cuban revolutionaries. Initially, the four founding members were an avant-garde band without a singer who didn't play shows and rehearsed just for their own pleasure, frequently switching instruments. On the verge of splitting up, they instead decided to look for somebody to provide more of a focus ľ on stage and lyrically. Singer Paul Smith was discovered by the at-the-time-girlfriend of drummer Tom English in a pub while he was singing along to a Stevie Wonder 's "Superstition". Having found someone with a stage presence, they started to write their first songs together, all despite the fact that the frontman never imagined himself as a frontman of a band. He'd never sung on stage beforehand, so it was a touch of luck that he turned out to be as well-suited to the role that he has grown into over the past few years.

Max´mo Park consist of:
  • Paul Smith (vocals)
  • Duncan Lloyd (guitar)
  • Archis Tiku (bass guitar)
  • Lukas Wooller (keyboards)
  • Tom English (drums)

Release Date: 02/04/07

Label: Warp

Rating: 4/5

The real meaning of emo returns. Proper songs, with proper emotions in them, and enough black hair to make Amy Lee fancy them a bit... probably. We don't really know. What we do know, however, is that it's very hard to not listen to an album you've been waiting for since the debut arrived. It's also hard to believe it will be any better, with such a pretentious (and awful) title as 'Our Earthly Pleasures'; we're left wondering if this is going to be as pleasurable to us as the sex dream that obviously inspired the title was to them. So, let's stick it on, shall we?

Opener 'Girls With Guitars' is the sort of song you can just sink into. A bit held back, maybe, but still beautiful in the weird, tainted way Maximo have always managed. "The path of excess just led to boredom... you've lived your life with your mouth wide open!" Paul Smith wails in his typical northern charm. They can still make your heart shudder its structure until you're shot to hell, wasted and crying in the corner, then. Mind you, "we used to talk about boys with missing spines" surely gets the award for the strangest song lyric. Ever.

'Books From Boxes' has been a talking point since the lyrics were mysteriously posted on the band's myspace page in the comment section, and it's been well worth the hype. This very-slow-for-Maximo jem gives Duncan Lloyd's beautiful guitar work time to shine, as it does for Lukas Wooller's keyboards in the related 'Russian Literature'.

'Karaoke Plays' is the huge disappointment of the album. It struggles, trying very hard to get off the crowd but never quite succeeding. The same goes for 'Your Urge', for that matter. At least that seems the case until you start to sing along ľ then it all makes sense. In fact, the entire world starts to.

By the time you're thrown into the sea of 'The Unshockable' you'll be well and truly happy. The smile will be joined by sadness during the ode to Newcastle meet-up spot featured in the story told in 'By The Monument' ľ Maximo are still getting the balance brilliantly perfect emotionally, too. "Defacing pictures of famous people on the train... standing by the monument just waiting for the rain!"

The real diamond here, however, is 'Nosebleed'. A long time in the making (it was originally to be included on album number one until it was decided it had more to give), the blood-split-over lyrics, the well-timed drums and the bleeding guitar gives the impression of dying by the beach. And what a sweet death it seems. "I'd like to clear the air, but I can't bear to hear your voice... it's tainted." And suddenly, your beautiful world is too.

Han Quintrell