The National Health
Straight to the Sun
Sep 13, 2012 Web Exclusive
Maxïmo Park blasted out of the U.K. in 2005 with A Certain Trigger, an album of angular, fast-paced post-whatever rock and roll that was gripping in both its musical heft and its incisive lyrical dexterity. However, with time, the band's aura yielded diminishing returns, culminating with 2009's disappointing Quicken the Heart. But for a fan of A Certain Trigger and the stellar EPs that preceded it, The National Health represents a true return to form.
After the minute-long introspective, piano-and-strings driven "When I Was Wild," the album kicks into gear, segueing into the driving, hypertensive title track, a screed on English politics with adroit demonstration of the band's signature wit in lines like, "Fellini couldn't have dreamt of this." "Write This Down" is an electronic-tinged threat from a wronged lover, with vivid imagery in lines like, "Stealing post-punk posters from your sister's room," and "The Undercurrents" is a Coldplay-huge, melodically gigantic tale of a crumbling relationship. While these and many other tracks on the first half of The National Health vividly remind of the band's early days, not everything here works to such perfection. Speaking of Coldplay-esque, "This Is What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" errs on the insipid side, or at least as much as can a song that starts with the couplet, "Human nature is on a loop/Spare me a moment to regroup." "Banlieue" is all pumping id that, for its in-your-face bombast, doesn't exactly hit its mark. And the album tends to wind down toward the end, despite the fist-pumping final track, "Waves of Fear."
The larger point is that with The National Health, Maxïmo Park has reclaimed what made it great and reminds of what it is capable of. There is much to fawn over here. This is the Maxïmo Park we know and love. (www.maximopark.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 6/10