Maximo Park has picked up a little steam in the UK, but still has a way to go toward stardom. Frontman Paul Smith isn't ready to assume the title of Satirist/Absurdist Extraordinaire, previously held by mates of state Damon Albarn and Jarvis Cocker, though his coy lyrics do their damndest to argue otherwise. "I'm losing more than I'll ever have / I'm losing more than I'll ever give," Smith spits on the acidic "Postcard Of A Painting". While Smith chews at the rotten core of a failed relationship (or a failed attempt at even beginning a relationship), sparkling guitars dance around him, simple harmonies kicking in at the chorus to elevate the two-minute track to laudable pop heights.
"Going Missing" flaunts a similarly catchy chorus, though poor structure trips it up on the way into the second verse. By the time you've heard "Now I'm All Over The Shop", yet another tune that seems to be written around its chorus, you'll know you're listening to a band that's consumed with writing a hit when it should be spending a little more time writing solid, tight songs.
That said, there are relatively few obvious missteps here, though you should consider yourself warned about the spoken-word downer "Acrobat", which fails to elicit any emotional response beyond a brief chuckle.
Though Maximo Park has enough electricity to light Manhattan, there's a faint but inescapable whiff of calculation about them, and it may discourage listeners who like their tunes to be a little less... methodical. Smith and the band keep the volume at eleven, but for all the guitar crunching and obtuse songwriting, it's sometimes hard to picture them breaking a sweat. If they can shake the pre-meditated rock outs, Maximo Park might turn out to be as big as they want us to think they are.