Maxïmo Park are perhaps one of the most misunderstood guitar groups in the country. An art-rock proposition from the North East, the band's opening two records were released on Warp - y'know… Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada et al - and they rode the initial post-punk revival to their commercial zenith. When the indie bubble burst, however, they seemed to get dragged down by the declining reputation of their peers, in spite of the undeniable politicised potency that drove latter-day highlights such as 2016's 'Risk To Exist'.
A few months ago, in one of those diversionary articles designed to be shared around on social media, Vice published a largely affectionate list of the Greatest Landfill Indie Songs Of All Time. For anyone who remembers that heady time of 2005-07, it was a good nostalgic excuse to look back at the likes of The Rifles, Morning Runner and Cajun Dance Party with a fond smile. The inclusion of Maxïmo Park raised more than a few hackles though – mainly because the Newcastle band always seemed to rise above the pejorative ‘landfill indie’ tag.
While certainly changing on both a wider, and international scale (a global pandemic will have a tendency to do that), the differences also reach more personal for Maximo Park. Though Nature Always Wins marks the band's first record since the birth of singer Paul Smith's first child, it's also notably the first since the departure of founding member and keyboard player Lukas Wooler, an egress that left a sizeable gap in the band's foundation. And two events which inform much of the record.
By this stage in their career, UK rock band Maxï mo Park could be forgiven for being fairly settled into their modus operandi. They have had a successful time of it on their various previous albums, developing a reputation as an intelligent act, both in terms of their musicality and lyricism. What comes as something of a shock--as Nature Always Wins sets sail with "Partly of My Making" and "Versions of You"--is the energy.