Maximo Park - THE NATIONAL HEALTH
A CERTAIN TRIGGER, the debut album of Maximo Park, is a great record – Clever and sprightly with melodic twists, filled with great songs brimming with emotion. The follow-up OUR EARTHLY PLEASURES was similar but not quite as deft musically. MP’s third album QUICKEN THE HEART was a disappointment. They sounded like they had lost all their energy and drive.
It might be too much to ask that that they reach the heights of TRIGGER again. NATIONAL HEALTH, their newly released fourth album, is energetic and fun. Far better than QUICKEN but the songs are simpler. I enjoy this record because I like MP’s sound- A low rent Roxy Music with Paul Smith’s strong vocal presence. I hope they can find the inspiration to duplicate TRIGGER again but this will do until then.
The dB’s - FALLING OFF THE SKY
In 1982, Chris Stamey left The dB’s. His fellow singer/songwriter Peter Holsapple carried on for a few more records but the end result was like a bird with only one wing. Gone was the jittery pop. In its place was a smoother sound.
FALLING OFF THE SKY, The dB’s first album with both Stamey and Holsapple in 30 years, does not attempt to recreate their original edgy version of pop instead the sound is wistful very reminiscent of later day Squeeze. I think it might be too much to go back in time. These are men in their 50’s and this is mature pop music.
The My Bloody Valentine mothership which has inspired a 1,000 other bands has also had the sometimes negative effect of creating a trap with no exit. A lot of bands copy their sound note for note without finding a way to put in their own personality.
KITSUNE the debut album by the group Marriages finds a way out of that dead end. A less cacophonous, more relaxed take on shoegaze, these guys can really play as well. A promising start.