Maxïmo Park

Quicken The Heart

Written by: TL on 21/07/2009 14:33:36

Okay, so here's a record that I'm having a hard time reviewing. In my crusade to give Rockfreaks some mildly decent coverage of the world of indie rock, I picked up Maxïmo Park's third album "Quicken The Heart", and over the course of my relationship with it I have gone from hating it, over being bored with it, to reluctantly appreciating it - And this review is then supposed to make you understand how that's happened, even though I'm not too sure I do so myself.

Now before I undertake this doomed endeavor, let me just disclaim that I am more a casual appreciator of the odd indie rock band than I am a complete catalogue of knowledge of the genre. So I'll apologize in advance to those more nerdy on the subject if I make some dodgy comparisons, you are of course welcome to enlighten me in the comments below. With that out of the way let me introduce Maxïmo Park to those less nerdy. The band is a British five-piece sporting the classic vox/axe/bass/drums/keyboard setup and earlier in their career they have been labeled as a post-punk band. Here on "Quicken The Heart" however, the dominating characteristics are a lot less loud than such a label. In fact, this is probably the root of my problems with the album - You can barely call it rock, simply because it's so mellow, restrained, mature and cool that it just feels oddly calm to rock-accustomed ears.

Hence the first spin will probably leave you as cold as I, given the noisy periods of intensity and obvious refrains that simply shine in their absence. To me it sounds something like Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand or even The Cure, all at their most dark and quirky. So there I was, spinning it some more, each time with a sigh, preparing to be bored, but strangely that's not what happened. In less than five listens I started finding myself singing along to more and more lyrical bits and pausing in my daily business to enjoy the odd riff or keyboard piece. I didn't understand how, but "Quicken The Heart" was growing on me! The brilliance it seems, was hiding humbly in the details, but yet hiding in plain sight, because the more you listen, the more you start finding memorable bits in almost every song.

For instance, the choruses to "The Kids Are Sick Again" and "A Cloud Of Mystery" are some of the first to stick, while "Calm" forms the basis for my previous The Cure reference with it's up beat tempo and ascending refrains. "In Another World (You'd Have Found Yourself By Now)" is my immediate favourite, given it's nicely attitude-filled and threatening synths as well as the fact that my mind can't quite let go of the thought of a "revolving dancefloor in the middle of a river". The same goes for the following "Let's Get Clinical" as it proclaims how "I'd like to map your body out, inch by inch, head to toe, bare ankles used to mean adventure, with you they still do".

While the latter half of the album (on which the mentioned songs do not reside) keeps up the musical intricacy, it does start to feel a bit less memorable to me, but still, the damage has been done. I may have started out disliking "Quicken The Heart", but the more I listen to it I just keep falling slowly but steadily in love with it. So that means I will of course be willing to recommend that you give it a listen, especially if you're not opposed to the concept of some mellow indie that trades loudness and intensity for thoughtfulness and richness of detail.


Download: Calm, In Another World (You'd Have Found Yourself By Now), Cloud Of Mystery. Let's Get Clinical
For The Fans Of: Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, The Cure

Release Date 18.06.2009
Warp Records

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