Status updates, tweets, memes, constant communication: seeing through the data smog is harder every day. Through all the neon flash and white noise, however, there are transmissions that slash straight through all the static and cut to the quick. Maximo Park's fifth album Too Much Information is one such record, that hooks out life's critical moments from the dizzying ebb and flow and brings them into HD-sharp focus. It's the work of a band who, despite their compelling development since 2005's febrile debut A Certain Trigger, have never confused consistency with give-the-people-what-they-want reliability. "After five records you want to make a statement to the world and say 'this is us and if you don't like it, unlucky we're not going to change for you,'" says singer Paul Smith.
The band's last release was the incendiary barricade-building of 2012 The National Health, a record that lit the oil-soaked rag on what Smith calls a "hot streak" for the band. In December 2012, the band headed to the Sunderland studio of their friends David and Peter Brewis, the brothers behind Field Music, to work on an EP and capitalise on the impetus built up behind The National Health.
The plan quickly changed, however. "We are not depressed Nietzschean characters but we still take it very seriously - an album is a grand statement of the time, but with an EP you feel you can let go a bit, like we do with our B-sides," explains Smith. "Once we'd done this supposed EP, though, we thought, 'this is pretty good, if we carry on down this road, we've got a record.'" Heading to their own studio, they completed the album with guitarist Duncan Lloyd doing the bulk of the recording. "It was all very DIY - that's how we started," explains Lloyd, who utilised studio techniques derived from such disparate sources as Jim O'Rourke and Motown's Hitsville USA. This independent approach also led to the liberating sense of possibility that infuses the album.
Too Much Information is a remarkable creation for a band five albums in: a collection of songs that pulses with life and intent and reveals that while Maximo Park have lost none of their restless energy since their formation in Newcastle in 2000, their ability to startle and provoke has deepened.
Sometimes you hear a great record from a band you love and wonder, "where are they gonna go from here?" And sometimes you worry. And sometimes your worrying is meaningless because not only does this band that you love pull it off again, but they reveal new depth and vibrancy that make you want to crank their music up even louder and dance around the house. With Eternal Summers' The Drop Beneath there is no need to worry.
Roanoke, Virginia based Nicole Yun, Daniel Cundiff, and Jonathan Woods separate themselves from the genres and comparisons of 2012's Correct Behavior throughout The Drop Beneath. No longer is the band still learning how best to cause chaos, rather Eternal Summers is now pushing their music to new limits with no fear of repercussions or of fitting in.
With production by Doug Gillard (Guided By Voices, Nada Surf) and mixing by Louie Lino (Nada Surf), The Drop Beneath brings out the bands 90's influences such as the early guitar pop days of Radiohead, Blur, Teenage Fanclub, Lush and the early alt-rock of Foo Fighters. The band met Gillard while touring with Nada Surf, which is howThe Drop Beneath took shape. "We had been talking about having a producer that would be more hands on and work in the studio, more closely with the band. [Meeting Doug] was the genesis of everything leading up to the album." It also led the band to record in Austin. "We escaped the end of winter and spent time in the warmer weather down South. We wouldn't be bothered in Austin and could focus like we wanted. There was a cave close by and we would go in there to be in total blackness."
Stepping out of the blackness resulted in songs like "Gouge" and "Never Enough," which showcase the upbeat jangly pop the band is known for, "A Burial," a powerful alt-rock monster best heard pumping through your car stereo while the sweetness of "Keep My Away" suggests the influences of 90's Brit Pop balladry. The Drop Beneath out March 4th (Kanine Records) offers a range of songs more mature and catchier than ever.