Maxïmo Park – Nature Always Wins (Album Review)

In the 2000s, a slew of bands had once again waved the flag of Post-Punk music—the likes of The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, British Sea Power, and Maxïmo Park, The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, British Sea Power, the members of which were able to make good use of their time during the pandemic.

Formed in 2000, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, the English Post-Punk Revivalists—Paul Smith (vocals), Duncan Lloyd (guitar), and Tom English (drums) with sessionists Paul Rafferty (bass) and Jemma Freese (keyboards)—release their seventh studio album on February 26, 2021, via Prolifica Records. Titled Nature Always Wins, it tackles a timely and relevant take on current events, challenging their audience to ask themselves the age-old question: “Do we really have control over the environment?” Musically, it retains the enduring band’s trademark penchant for rhythmic angularity and melody.

Nature Always Wins opens bombastically with “Partly of My Making”—crunchy and punchy, a throwback to ’90s Grunge and Alternative Rock, reminiscent of the likes of Live (“I Alone”), Collective Soul (“Shine”), and Jane’s Addiction (“Been Caught Stealing”). After this sudden surge of Alternative energy, Maxïmo Park then turns reflective and romantic for a bit, only to burst again with the inspired chorus of “Versions of You.” The ensuing “Baby Sleeps” and “Placeholder” are dancefloor magnets and sure stompers, drawing styles from the band’s early albums.

Another sweet-sour track comes next in the form of “All of Me”—very breezy and melodic, a matrimony of Post-Punk guitars, tubular basslines, syncopated drumbeats, and New Wave synth washes and keyboard melodies. Then there is the Alternative Rock edge of “Ardour” and the minimal Synthpop flare of “Meeting Up.”

“Why Must a Building Burn” will remind the initiated of what was good about 2000s Indie Rock—a conglomeration of everything good from the preceding decades—dancy, melodramatic, lush, and arty. Following next is the single “I Don’t Know What I’m Doing”—undulating, as if a maglev train floating on an animated railway track. The cascading rollercoaster ride continues with the equally upbeat “The Acid Remark.”

The second-to-the-last song, “Feelings I’m Supposed to Feel,” relaxes the mood; a perfect example of a Post-Punk ballad that could melt the heart and make one’s head and feet follow the beat. Finally, Smith, Lloyd, English, and the rest of the Maxïmo Park entourage wrap up their latest record with the textured, cinematic allure of “Child of the Flatlands.”

The pandemic blues and lockdown-conceived short-term memories have definitely served Maxïmo Park well. Nature Always Wins is not only a current winner; it is also destined to be a future classic that will remind everyone someday that something good still came out of that woeful period most likely no one will want to remember anymore. Music is indeed a food for the spirit. Nature always wins, yes; but not when the human spirit is compassionate and its intentions benevolent. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Nature Always Wins 4 out of 5 stars.

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ALfie vera mellaAuthor posts

Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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