Maximo Park’s “Quicken the Heart”

Maximo Park - Quicken the Heart

by Nick Parker

Maximo Park's Paul Smith

The Stage is Set: Rarely has there been so much controversy about an album in the RSL writer’s team than about this one. Long-standing friendships have ended, bitter words have been thrown, violence has ensued, lawyers have been called… well, a few of us have sent some sarcastic emails to each other at least. I must give credit for his wit to one other writer on the team, who is otherwise a big fan of the band, for snarkily renaming today's music target: “Minimo Park” after hearing this album.

How can I defend Maximo Park from ‘vicious’ attacks like this? Well, in all seriousness, “Quicken the Heart,” the band’s third album, is possibly the best new music I have heard in the last six months. (editor's note: the band is featured on RSL's Best of New Music (A-Z) Album List)

Why I like it so much: “Quicken the Heart” harkens back to a lot of older music, particularly from the 80s. It’s an album that is heavy with vintage synths and clean guitar hooks. The pacing of the songs too, has something about it that makes you feel like you’re watching a band who aren’t aware that they could play harder with a drum machine, and so achieve every ounce of energy they produce by simply throwing themselves at their instruments. Having seen them live (and they will be back at Paradise on 20th Sept, so you can too!), I can imagine them doing just that as they play these tracks.

PAUL SMITH is AN ALL-STAR: This band has a star performer though, who lifts them from just good melodies and interesting hooks, to something really remarkable. Singer Paul Smith writes songs of love and romance that seem vintage like the rest of the band. I would hold Smith’s lyrical abilities up against anyone writing today though. He then sings these fantastic, emotive lines with a voice that sounds so desperately strained that even those with a heart of stone begin to wilt under the pressure. There is so much sadness in this music, but so much celebration of life too: of affairs loved but now over (“Tanned”), of brief, beautiful moments held between lovers (“Questing, not Coasting”), and of the excitement of fledgling relationships (“I Haven’t Seen Her in Ages”).

This is probably not the best album this band has produced, but, like a new summer romance, I can see nothing but the beauty of my current love.

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