Album Review – Maxïmo Park: Nature Always Wins

Cover sleeve for Maxïmo Park’s album ‘Nature Always Wins’

Maxïmo Park – Nature Always Wins

Ever since Paul Smith promised to do graffiti if we sung to him in French, Maxïmo Park have secured a place in our hearts. And having seen them perform at different points across their illustrious career, it’s fair to say they’re as much a force majeur playing live now as they were back in the early days.

The release of their seventh album Nature Always Wins promises contemplation, reflection and confrontation, all in Smith’s instantly recognisable vocal. After the slower start of lead track Partly of my Making, the pace quickens with Versions of You and Baby Sleep, the latter one of a number of nods to the life affirming and altering stages of parenthood.

A couple of stand out tracks, All of Me is set to be a live favourite when the time comes while Ardour, true to its name, encompasses all the enthusiasm and energy we might expect from a classic Maxïmo track, whilst retaining the associated lyrical wit as it ponders the question, ‘If I become the joke can I still deliver the punchline?’

There’s much here to enjoy, the band have adapted to Lukas Wooller’s departure by taking different approaches to song structure and instrumentation and the synchronicity of the three remaining members pulls it all together nicely.

Closing track Child of the Flatlands explores the changing face of the world we live in and the impact of our actions. It’s an epic close to the album, filled with melancholy and hope at the same time, and showcases the best of Newcastle’s finest.

Maxïmo Park standing at the top of a hill all dressed in different colour blocks of red, black and blue

Smith explains the message behind Nature Always Wins thus, “It’s the reality of our situation on earth! You can’t fight against nature, whether it’s human nature or the environment. And to call back to the domestic situation: whatever happens is down to the nature of who we are. When you give birth to anything, whether it’s a child or an album, you betray who you are in that process. Even just making this record the way we have and the way it sounds now – that’s the nature of the band. It wins out. We’re a pop band. They’re songs you can understand, yes, influenced by lots of different genres. But what it comes down to is: we still want every song to be hooky, melodic, memorable – to be loved. It’s not a vanity project – we want people to get into it. That is the nature of Maxïmo Park”.

And there we are, Maxïmo Park are back and, frankly, it feels like catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen since before lockdown; you may notice a few changes but the essence and familiarity of why you were first drawn to them is impossible to miss and the accompanying virtual hug is very welcome.

Nature Always Wins is released this Friday 26th February. As planned tour dates have inevitably had to be postponed, the band have announced a livestream performance on 6th March. You can pre-order the album and purchase tickets for the show here.

Words by Siobhan
Photo via Prescription PR

23rd February 2021