5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2009
Having read the other reviews, I'd say that I was somewhere in between in my reaction to the Park's latest.
Given that the release date of this album was in my calendar for months, it would be fair to say that I was very much looking forward to a listen and expectations were high.
I must say however, that I wasn't blown away on the initial play. Yet I think this was more of a case of heightened anticipation and the inevitable comparisons with A Certain Trigger and Our Earthly Pleasures.
What the album does lack compared with those first two is that standout killer track that sucks you into the album and prompts you to compulsively play it. For me, it was Our Velocity and I Want You to Stay on the first two which got me hooked and keen to explore the other tracks.
So in that sense, I'll agree with the negative review here in saying that The Kids are Sick Again isn't the strongest single Maximo Park have ever released.
But don't despair... to nick one of Paul's lyrics "it's a grower" and my persistence has paid off in hitting the repeat button. The sound is still them (if a little less guitar heavy) and the lyrics still mark them out as one of the most insightful and poetic bands we have in this country.
There's some cracking tracks which I've really warmed to - Let's Get Clinical, I Haven't Seen Her in Ages, Calm - and I've got a funny suspicion that they will all sound great when I go and see them live tomorrow.
Whether the new tracks will match up to their predecessors however is another matter.
To put it simply, if you like the Park, you'll probably like Quicken the Heart, though you might not like it as much as their previous albums.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 8 May 2009
Third album - will they get so big in sound and produced that they end up sounding stadium impersonal and lose their idiosyncratic charm in the process? I didn't really fear this, since the second album, though definitely given a different production polish from A Certain Trigger, had avoided this hurdle already. But it did make me wonder where the sound would go and how they could push it further.
The answer lies in more keys, less straight guitar and more guitar which often sounds like keys (and even vocal - see "Overland" 's intro) and an unashamedly pop route which takes in early 80s infleunces (Joy Division - "Penultimate Clinch", Blondie - "Calm", Gary Numan - "Let's Get Clinical" and mid 80s A-Ha - "In Another World", "I Haven't Seen Her in Ages") without sounding slavishly derivative and still retaining Maximo's typically quixotic approach to the verse and chorus formula and key and tempo changes ("Cloud of Mystery" in paricular for the key changes). "Overland" is a masterpiece in confidence, taking the Maximo chaos to the limit - you think it's going nowhere but when you get to know it you realise the verse and chorus and it's arguably the one track where straight guitar and keys come out equal.
So, the songrwriting prevails, though possibly the pop strength makes the lyricism of gritty modern urban life a bit less immediate at first. It's interesting that though this is definitely a musical progression there are moments of old school structure and melody that take you back to A Certian Trigger but with a 2009 twist - "Let's Get Clinical" is reminsicent of "I Want You to Stay" while "I Haven't Seen Her in Ages", in its simnplicity (and folkishly beautiful close harmonies), is a "Kiss You Better" for 2009 and, like "Kiss You Better", is a sweet album closer.
In keeping with the unashamed pop feel, I've counted at least 4 songs with enthusiastic "wo-oh"s and oh-oh"s, which somehow sit easily alongside Maximo's ability to produce film noir soundtracks such as "Roller Disco Dreams" (for me, some kind of reprise in feel of Our Earthly Pleasures' "Parisian Skies"). With that and "Cloud of Mystery" I'm sure they've been listening to the music of Konami's horror strategy game series, Silent Hill! A minor minor negative point - "Questing Not Coasting" sounds as though it was recorded at a different time, its production just doesn't have the energy of the rest of the tracks - but it's a small minus in a sea of plusses.
So it's quintesssentially Maximo and yet not just more of the same, though I guess the move to less noticeable guitar and more synth might polarise opinion and leave some harking back to the rawer sound of old. Personally, I'm loving the confidence with which they have been able to deliver something so unashamedly pop. I'm sure I can hear in the tracks that Paul Smith really enjoys singing these songs - and that's singing with a full, lusty karaoke heart. Go and listen on their MySpace for the rest of this week - what have you got to lose? - and buy without regret! It's a rare feat that an album almost immediately catchy also has enough depth to keep you coming back. I've been listening on repeat the past 3 days without a hint of boredom yet and I keep discovering new elements. I can't wait to play it on a music system when I get the cd!
It's an incomparable experience to feel so excited that a new album from a band you appreciate has gone beyond your expecatations - and Maximo, for me, have done it again. Some published reviews have been kinder to this album than the last. I hope this comes off and this is the year Maximo win some high profile accolades. Surely it's time for that Mercury nomination to be turned into a winner.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 August 2009
Not having been a large fan of the park up until early this year I couldn't believe just what I had missed. Fantastic lyrics, a gorgeous voice singing, stunning sounds. And a keyboard player. A tiny detail to some but as a keyboard player myself I'm finding there are less bands including said players anymore.
I was eangerly awaiting this album, having pre-ordered as soon as I heard it was out. I steered clear of any reviews until I'd heard it myself. Wraithlike and The Kids Are Sick Again had already been blasted through my speakers from youtube, giving me a fairly good idea of what to expect.
Unfortunately I have to say I wasn't grabbed when hearing it first. I put it on repeat and soon found, to my surprise, I was singing the words. As he says, If it's a grower, why can't we take things slower? Well, Mr Smith, I was prepared to take Quicken The Heart slowly, and found it really was a grower.
Delving further I fell quietly in love.
One of their best songs yet? I think so. Those beautiful melodies, the sweet lyrics and that tiny keyboard pattern that totally makes the song. That, and Questing, Not Coasting (thank god it's a single!) are the two highlights for me. Something else I've recently discovered: That Beating Heart - B side to Questing. Such a shame it wasn't included on the album, as soon as the piano began I was hooked. Also if not buying from iTunes I thoroughly recommend Lost Property: a quiet song, but lovely in its own right.
Weak points: Wraithlike, The Kids Are Sick Again and Overland. On their own they're superb, but next to the other songs? Not quite.
So, their best album? Better than their second, and probably on a par with their first.
A simply beautiful album.
Oh, and the dvd. It's a shame it didn't have live footage of the new album, but when you watch it, that doesn't seem to matter anymore. They create such an atmosphere, performing almost better live than on record. It's nice to see footage from two completely different gigs intertwined. Again, highlights: I Want You To Stay and Acrobat.
It's brilliant to not only have them on record, but also see them live. Really there isn't much difference.
Such an underated band, but maybe it's better like that. No radio stations playing them to death like they do to so many other songs.
Go buy this album now, you won't regret it and the songs will stay with you long after you heard them.
Next stop: seeing them live for myself!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 2009
After what seems like an eternity, Maximo return with their 3rd long-player. Whilst their feet have hardly touched the ground taking the Maximo sound around the world, the boys have still created an album bristling with boundless energy, and at times unbridled emotion, with of course an obligatory nod to their hometown.
I have been fortunate enough to have heard the whole album, and Maximo have definitely carved their own sound from the tree of music history, at times sounding like an early Japan, with post-punk energy and infusion of early 80s electro, with intelligent lyrics floating effortlessly like the Shields ferry.
It is unique that an album can not only be instantly enjoyed, but continue to improve with each listen - and it's a grower, why can't we take things slower!
If you do get to see them live this year it will probably be the gig of the year for you. I think I caught them 5 times promoting the last record, and the last one being shared on the additional DVD with this release, I hope I see myself jumping around like a box of frogs to Limassol!
Anyhoo.. buy it, enjoy it, you will still be playing it in 6 months.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2009
There seems to an agreement between the positive reviewers here that it takes one or two (or five) listens to really get into this. I agree and it's probably a good thing. It doesn't have the immediacy of the second album or the mysterious, fresh feeling of their debut. We approach this album with expectations and that's never a nice position to be in.
My first reaction to this album was of slight dissapointment and when I changed my mind I decided I should write a review...to repent.
Paul Smith's lyrics rarely falter (who else can sing "I've got a bee in my bonnet" and sound so serious?).
In terms of rhythm and melody some sections seem somewhat lacklustre...not so tight and angular as we're used to.
Where I think they've really challenged themselves is with the structure of the songs. Such contrasting sections of songs sit side by side to fantastic effect (I'm thinking especially of the melody at the beginning of "A Cloud of Mystery" next to the chorus which builds naturally from the verses and then back to that opening theme).
It's a technique that make the album less approachable at first but is in fact one of it's greatest strengths and even saves some of the weaker songs. "Calm" is a case in point which evolves from something quite innocuous into a completely different song, the second half giving purpose to the first.
I've said enough and now I'm tempted to give it five stars but in truth it's not as flawless as the second album. It is however a great sign that Maximo Park are evolving and are prepared to step outside their (and our) comfort zone. I look forward as excitedly as ever to their next offering
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 31 May 2009
It was 4 years ago when i bought A Certain Trigger followed by securing tickets to Maximo Park on the NME tour who headlined above The Mystery Jets, The Arctic Monkeys and We are scientists at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, what a night of sheer energy and stage prowess that Mr Smith always injects throughout each album that Maximo Park have brought out.
Being in my top 5 favourite bands, I wanted to assess this album with no blinkers affecting my judgement from the previous offerings. It features short tracks many on 3 mins, if you have an extra £1 you can get the DVD version with a brilliant live show of the 1st and 2nd album tracks a visual treat.
Quicken The Heart
What can i say, an absolutely wonderful album that maintains Paul Smiths, accent-led emotional lyrics, the single The Kids are Sick again, opens with the strong synth beat, which then takes itself back a peg, to build up, a style that Maximo Park often like to do in more lyric focussed songs.
This is followed by fantastic track cloud of mystery, which has a fantastic sing along chorus, it is such a catchy song that fans will be re-aquainted early on in the album, this is my favourite song on the album.
The spacey and light intro to Calm, builds into a rock quality tune, its almost like a cross between books from boxes and limassol, but when it kicks in it is a tremendous energetic yet passionate song.
In another world, is more reflective of A certain trigger and is a more linear song structure
Roller Disco Dreams is my second favourite song on the album, it opens with a slightly menacing intro then builds into a wonderfully light and poppy sound with the chorus 'If its a grower, lets take things slower' as for extra effect in his accent which gives it that more believable emotional attachment
The new up coming single Questing, no coasting, is a outstanding song that builds and builds then Paul sings tremendously well in this, my favourite part is the crescendo moment with the lyrics go:
'Thanks for coming by, on such a dreadful night, a net curtain flashes, outside the rain it lashes, frozen stardust falls, wide eyes can see it all'
This is Maximo Park at their best
Tracks The Kids are Sick again, Cloud of Mystery, Calm, Roller Disco Dreams and Questing, No coasting are the stand out tracks on this album
Great synths and the accent/lyric passion is present as ever
Does not sound 'commercial'
Fanatics will lap this up and will immediately be pleased
Will take a couple of listens
at 37 mins the album is quite short and left me wanting more, i dont think i can wait 2 years for that, this is why i suggest getting the DVD version.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2009
Like many of the folks who have organised a review on this album, I have been a keen fan of Maximo and have in fact seen them live 7 times which is where we all know they really stand out. I struggled to find a standout track and with the lead tracks 'Wraithlike' and 'Kids Are Sick Again' not getting me hooked.
I had booked to see Maximo at Brixton Academy (26/05/2009) months ago, and was keen to learn the tracks before seeing them and for this reason I to a degree forced myself to listen to all the tracks and find that elusive standout track.
After around a week I fell in love with 'Lets Get Clinical', 'A Cloud of Mystery' and 'Roller Disco Dreams', when you get the album I strongly suggest giving these songs some well deserved airtime on your MP3 player.
At this point I would have only given the album a 4/5 regardless of my affections towards the band, however after listening to these tracks LIVE, I can happily say that these without a doubt really do compliment the rest of the back catalogue during a performance. Watching the band perform these tracks I could tell that they really like what they have done here and ultimately enjoyed the slight sidestep they have made in creating this album.
For example 'Roller Disco Dreams' is based on a club in Newcastle that they use to visit in their youth.... just nice to know the background.
Anyway if you have other two albums you'll LIKE 'Quicken the heart'; if you are planning on seeing the band live you'll LOVE 'Quicken the heart'; if you happen to have only heard this album out of the three (including 'A certain trigger' and 'Out earthly Pleasures') and love it, then you are in for a treat when you listen to the other two.....
I can't wait to see these at Glastonbury; I'll see you in at The Queens head Stage!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 2009
The 3rd official offering from Maximo Park was not as good as I'd hoped. There are a couple of catchy songs, but nothing approaching the brilliance of Our Velocity, Apply Some Pressure, Girls who play guitars etc.
I hope the next album lives up to the reputation of the previous 2.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2009
I was so excited when my copy of Quicken the Heart arrived through the door and on the first listen I was so impressed I recommended it too all of my friends. However after a week of listening I can't help but feel the title of this album should be "My girlfriend left me I am going to sing some songs about it". Alot of the songs on the album start good but then turn into the same whining over and over again. There are a few songs i would recommend Wraithlike, The penulitimate clinch, the kids are sick again, a cloud of mystery, in another world and lets get clinical but I wouldn't bother with the rest.
The DVD is excellent - that why i gave the product 3 stars instead of 2. It was filmed at the metro arena gig in december 2007 and is maximo park at their best - playing live infront of their "home" crowd. The DVD also features interviews with the bands that gives an insight to what it was like for them playing their home crowd.
Overall I would recommend the item if you are a hardcore fan or if you were at the gig.
on 13 February 2015
One of the great clichés in the music industry is that of “the difficult second album”, the struggle to live up to expectations second time around after a promising debut. Maxïmo Park has this struggle when coming to follow up the Mercury Music Prize nominated “A Certain Trigger”. Their second album, “Our Earthly Pleasures” more than answered any questions on that score, but could “Quicken the Heart” keep the momentum going?
This is by no means a bad album, but it’s nothing special either, it’s merely adequate. In comparison to previous Maxïmo Park releases, it’s lacking a certain something. There are some decent tracks here, but there’s nothing that particularly jumps out and grabs you and in playing the album straight through, it does get a little samey and almost dull by the end, despite only having a running time of slightly under 38 minutes over the 12 tracks. It’s not an album that is long enough to become boring, but somehow it achieves that, as there’s not enough variation here.
This is an album I feel would be better played on iTunes in Shuffle mode, mixed in with other tracks, as on their own, some of the songs don’t sound too bad, it’s just when they’re all played together the album seems to be lacking in punch. For those who are Maxïmo Park fans already, this is likely to disappoint you especially, as it is a pale comparison to their earlier work. If you like indie-rock generally, it’s something that’s decent listening, even if it won’t stand up to repeated plays.
This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk