Really, this shit writes itself. Second album, blah, blah, blah. Taken seriously as artists, blah, blah, blah. Sophomore slump, blah, blah, blah. Not as good as the debut, blah, blah, blah.
So damn you Maxïmo Park, damn you for being so cliched. Because, sad and predictable as it is to say it, Our Earth Pleasures is not as good as A Certain Trigger. Our Earthly Pleasures suffers through a desire to be taken seriously. Our Earthly Pleasures is, unfortunately, another example of the sophomore slump. As mentioned, it writes itself.
It could have been different. The first couple of tracks show that they could have achieved what they wanted. Girls Who Play Guitars powers up on the back of a synthetic pulse (the Max-ee-mo version of the Kaiser Chiefs‘ “Wooooooooah!”), before exploding into jerky life like an indie Frankenstein with a heavy punch.
Our Velocity then smashes the point home, catapulting from the traps to slap you in the face, then spinning around in a blistering whirlwind of cheap Casio bleeps and crunching guitars. They’re both tracks which keep the nervous urgency which sustained the debut, but which piggyback it onto the bigger dreams that now sustain the band.
But around Books In Boxes problems start. The spring seems sprung and we start to drown in a sea of earnestness. Earnestness which comes at the expense of the angles, the freewheeling energy, the dynamic sense of adventure; the things which had they built on, could have elevated them to the next level.
But maybe they’re playing a different game. A game which will end with songs like Sandblasted And Set Free – songs with stadium tour etched into their very fabric. With the huge vistas and windswept desire it contains, the most amazing thing about it is that it means there is now a song under the Warp imprint which sounds very much like U2. The odds on which were slightly longer than Amy Winehouse fronting the next Just Say No! campaign.
But for all that, it isn’t a bad record. For every overly wordy line or attempt to park themselves in a more central position on the road , there is something like By The Monument. Something which manages to squeeze in a piano line which by all rights should be off wearing berets and nibbling on canapes, and then manages to fashion a brilliant chorus out of the line “Defacing pictures of famous people / on the train”, and yet is still utterly marvelous.
No doubt, when it’s good, the pleasures on offer are appealing. But too much of this record is so desperate to mature, to be “Taken Seriously” that it strays into mundanity. It’s an album which makes you feel like Maxïmo are parked when they should be in the fast lane.