Maximo Park
Quicken The Heart


3.5
great

Review

by Fugue USER (58 Reviews)
May 10th, 2009 | 38 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Whilst not as good as their previous efforts, Quicken The Heart is a big slab of entertaining post-punk that only gets better with time.

Newcastle based Maxïmo Park are a strange thing in this day and age, a consistent band. They stormed into the public eye with the insanely catchy The Coast Is Always Changing in 2004, followed closely by the release of their radio friendly debut album A Certain Trigger. Primarily a post-punk act, there is a lot more to Maxïmo Park than meets the eye. Second album Our Earthly Pleasures dutifully expanded on the sound of their debut, doing away with the poppier elements of the music, instead containing much denser material; music for the thinking man. The calculated, layered atmosphere shown was a stark contrast from the light hearted A Certain Trigger but nevertheless the album was just as if not more successful than its predecessor. Quicken The Heart is the third album by the band and an album in which they strengthen their standing as one of Britain’s premier post-punk acts.

In previous albums the best way to portray Maxïmo Park in terms of sound would be a fusion of The Strokes and Silent Alarm era Bloc Party with a definite Morrissey-esque swagger and a thick Geordie accent thrown in for good measure. To say the band have stood still would be extremely harsh, but the musical direction they take in Quicken The Heart is akin to a combination of both their previous efforts. The pop sensibilities of A Certain Trigger have returned but with the understated charm of Our Earthly Pleasures. Like its predecessors it would be fair to say that Quicken The Heart is decidedly not a boring album. From opening track Wraithlike to closer I Haven’t Seen Her In Ages the crisp vocal performance of Paul Smith smoothly directs the music along, while the interesting guitar riffs and tidy rhythm section provide subtle support for the effervescent front man. Maxïmo Park, and Smith in particular have always been great lyricists and it is not surprising that this hasn’t changed with this release. Lines such as: "Just another song, a faded memory. A raison d’être for the entire family." (Wraithlike) show that Jones’ unique way with words hasn’t left and whilst there aren’t any observational quotes quite as good as: "Night falls and towns become circuit boards, we can beat the sun as long as we keep moving" (Books From Boxes) from Our Earthly Pleasures, the quality still remains.

Oddly appointed opening single The Kids Are Sick Again is definitely one of the weaker tracks on the album. The slow tempo matches the vocals well but the overwhelming lack of any hooks whatsoever don’t do the song any favours especially in the chorus which drags the song down a few notches. A much better appointment for opening single would have been next track A Cloud Of Mystery which more than compensates for the lack of a killer chorus in The Kids Are Sick Again with a huge chorus of its own. The subtle synthesizer effects in this song add much to the song and take the burden off of the vocal/guitar dominance that is shown throughout. With a final cymbal crash the track eventually segues perfectly into the less boisterous Calm. In fact the song transitions throughout Quicken The Heart are brilliant and add to the excellent production to construct a thoroughly polished piece of work.

It is evident that when the musicians in the band are reading the same scripts the end product is fantastic. Roller Disco Dreams is a great microcosm of the band at their most interesting. A nice change of pace from its less than brilliant precursor Let’s Get Clinical the funky bass lines and evocative lead riffs make it an album highlight of the mould of By The Monument from Our Earthly Pleasures. Another album highlight arrives in the surprise entity of Calm an extremely subdued track that benefits from its track placement – sandwiched between two heavier hitting tracks it offers a nice contrast and as a result shines. The soft verses build up the chorus well and the impressive vocal/guitar interplay sets up one of the best bridge’s in the album. While the majority of the album is indeed very good there are unfortunately a few exceptions. The consecutively placed Tanned and Questing, Not Coasting disappoint with sub-par performances given by all.

Overall Quicken The Heart is an acceptable evolution from Our Earthly Pleasures. Although it is often the second album that is tricky to pull off, if done well it still applies some pressure on a third album success. Where the band matured in the two years between A Certain Trigger and Our Earthly Pleasures they have backtracked slightly here incorporating elements of both albums in Quicken The Heart. This may rightfully be seen as a safe option by many and while it won’t be winning any end of year awards, inQuicken The Heart Maxïmo Park have still produced a great album that gets better the more you listen to it.

Recommended Tracks
Wraithlike
A Cloud Of Mystery
Calm
Roller Disco Dreams

Overall 3.5 Great



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user ratings (39)
Chart.
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good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Fugue
May 10th 2009


7354 Comments


average review is average

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 10th 2009


20858 Comments


Great review Ross. Looking forward to hearing this as I thought their first 2 were very good. The fact that they have gone for a safe combination of the 2 albums here seems good news to me.

The only question I have for you is how are the lyrics? I've found that Smith has definitely had a way with words in the past...

Fugue
May 10th 2009


7354 Comments


You bring up a good point Davey, and to be honest from what I can tell I don't think the lyrics on this album are as strong as on the other two. saying this they aren't bad and I was contemplating putting some in, but I couldn't find any accurate lyric lists and I don't trust my own interpretations as I have been very wrong countless times before.

Douglas
May 10th 2009


9201 Comments


Great review, really easy flowing!

You guys really pump out the reviews! I have only submitted 2 in the space of a week and you guys seem to chuck them up every day!

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 10th 2009


20858 Comments


Dougie, I think you've mistaken Ross for someone else! Haha.

Oh come on Ross, I was relying on you to do the transalations. Who am I going to know that speaks Geordie? Mark Viduka!?



Knott-
Emeritus
May 11th 2009


10198 Comments


lyrics are predictably intriguing davey, wraithlike f**king rules

Fugue
May 11th 2009


7354 Comments



You guys really pump out the reviews! I have only submitted 2 in the space of a week and you guys seem to chuck them up every day!


Hahaha I love this guy. Seriously though this statement isn't true for me.

Edit: Also Davey I decided to add a small section on the lyrics at the end of the second paragraph.
This Message Edited On 05.11.09

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
May 11th 2009


7423 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Excellent review, album is pretty good

Douglas
May 11th 2009


9201 Comments


As long as it is love I'll take it.

Knott-
Emeritus
May 11th 2009


10198 Comments


yeah Towns become circuit boards is maybe the best lyric ever written

AtavanHalen
May 11th 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hey you what's new

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 11th 2009


20858 Comments


Great stuff Ross. Just that little lyrical tidbit makes this review pos-worthy now!

Fugue
May 11th 2009


7354 Comments


Thanks for the kind words Ali, this is definately worth checking out and is probably the best British alt rock release of the year so far in my book.

Strikey I agree entirely, hence why it is the example in the review.

Davey thanks, I agree that it makes the review a little better.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 11th 2009


20858 Comments


You're welcome.

BTW, what's with the cover art? I guess it stands out.

Fugue
May 11th 2009


7354 Comments


Yeah I really dislike the artwork, looks like a crappy version of something The Killers would choose.

Knott-
Emeritus
May 11th 2009


10198 Comments


She said I'd forget her face, that's a lie
It's just not as real as before

i like the art to be honest it pretty much looks like they sound

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 12th 2009


4956 Comments


good job.

although, i dont get the obsession people have with the word "whilst" these days. just use while argh

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
May 12th 2009


7423 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

going to see them in newcastle tomorrow night

Fugue
May 12th 2009


7354 Comments


going to see them in newcastle tomorrow night


Should be a good gig what with them being a local band and all, tell me what you think of them live, yeah?

This Message Edited On 05.12.09

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 12th 2009


20858 Comments


Congrats on the feature Ross. Well deserved... Even if the cover art stands out like dogs balls.



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