Newcastle Indie rock quintet Maximo Park continue to tootle along at their own velocity (see that one coming?) on this, their fifth full-length. Here on Too Much Information however, they often tinker with the trusted formula they have ridden on since their inception and, by doing this, display a welcome sense of evolution.

The band often choose to relegate Duncan Lloyd’s guitar as it takes a backseat on moodier tracks such as ‘Brain Cells’ which almost sounds directly lifted from the early 80s. The fact that this track also doubles as the record’s first single release showcases the band’s intention on being viewed as something more than just another guitar band struggling to adapt to the current climate. ‘Leave This Island’ maintains the serious tone with its dramatic chord sequence and layering of shimmering synths while ‘Is It True’ throws guitars back into the foreground yet still whilst managing to retain the commendable new sound the band has developed.

It is curious then why much of the rest of the album finds the band falling back into their safety net of their guitar pop nature. Opening track ‘Give, Get, Take’ – with its bubbling keys, crunchy guitars and Dan Smith’s distinctive compact vocal hooks – would’ve settled in nicely amongst the tracklisting of debut album A Certain Trigger and subsequent release Our Earthly Pleasures for instance. Perhaps the track most reminiscent of old material however is ‘Her Name Was Audre’ which wisely ensures not to outstay its welcome by grinding to a halt after a two minute rollercoaster of energy. ‘Lydia, The Ink Will Never Dry’ on the other hand finds the band doing their best Smiths impression – jangly guitar et al.

While there is nothing here as instantly memorable as past classics such as ‘Apply Some Pressure’ or ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’ Too Much Information doesn’t really have a bad song on it. Even when Maximo Park are on auto-pilot they’re still an enjoyable band who consistently deliver simple yet effective choruses but it is the songs which show the group’s progression that stand out as album highlights. Admittedly it is not the most cohesive album, but in singing ‘I don’t know where we’re going’ on the final track Maximo Park perhaps seem perfectly content with this, so why shouldn’t we be too, eh?

James Barlow

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