Maximo Park: Our Earthly Pleasures

Catchy guitar riffs and sneaky synths are at Chop Suey on Sunday.

When one hypercritically analyzes Maxïmo Park's music, the band immediately falls short of the standards set by Scot-rock brethren Franz Ferdinand. They're not "sardonic" enough, not "complex," and not providing

"commentary" on some section of society. But if that's the case, why have I listened to the band's second album Our Earthly Pleasures more times over the course of a few months than I did to Franz's last album, which has been out more than a year and a half? I've listened to Our Earthly Pleasures more than 40 times, and I have yet to tire of its catchy guitar riffs, sneaky synths and unapologetically clear-cut song structures. However, I only actually listened to the album about five times. Most every other time I was driving, reading or writing with the music on as a soundtrack. Case in point, Pleasures is brilliant do-something-while-you-listen music. As I write this review, I can listen to the polished, sing-along music without being terribly distracted by indecipherable lyrics or thought-provoking guitar distortion. The lukewarm critical reception the album received by the mainstream press probably stems from the fact that Maxïmo Park, at least in its current incarnation, will never stack up to Franz, Bloc Party and Futureheads' lofty standards. They're critical underdogs and will likely stay that way. "Our Velocity," the disk's first single, may be the best example to illustrate what this album is all about. "Never try to gauge temperature when you tend to travel at light speed," sings vocalist Paul Smith, against grungy riffs, jumpy snyth lines and poppy drums. Sure it's pop-tastic, but Smith is telling us to chill out, tap our foot and just go along for the ride. I'm happy to oblige.

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