Maximo Park – The National Health

Maximo Park’s fourth album The National Health was born out of anger and frustration; not at the lukewarm response to their previous effort (2009’s Quicken The Heart ), but at the buoyant pop that prevailed throughout the GFC. This discord and tension has been fed into 13 tracks that bubble and fizz with a different kind of freshness and vitality. Opener ‘When I Was Wild’ – a minute-long piano ballad – immediately confounds the listener, before we’re returned to the more expected, incendiary rock of the title track.

The band’s native UK is not the sole source of inspiration here. Matters of the heart underscore the yearning ‘The Undercurrents’, but a general feeling of confusion consistent with the rest of the album prevails. Meanwhile, ‘Reluctant Love’ shares the same beat as New Order’s ‘Love Vigilantes’. The National Health is a rousing album. Ferocious and frank, it navigates through the foibles of society and the individual, proving there’s still some venom left in singer Paul Smith’s snarl.