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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