Frontmen around the world should take a cue from Paul Smith, singer/wordsmith extraordinaire of Maximo Park, and learn to take a step away and do that solo album you always talk about so you can come back to your original band re-energized and refocused. That’s exactly what The National Health, Maximo Park’s fourth full-length, sounds like: A band reinvigorated and rekindling that debut album feeling all over again.

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and in the three years since Quicken The Heart was released, Maximo Park fans are greatly rewarded with The National Health. The album already has the best single of the year with “Hips And Lips” and it happens to fall on possibly the greatest rock album of 2012. Maximo Park has made this masterpiece of an album thanks to the sharp writing and some great production from the legendary Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Pixies).

One of the things that makes Maximo Park songs so great is the memorable quality each has about them while keeping within a three and a half minute time frame. There’s two songs here that almost hit the four minute mark but the key to a successful MP song (And album) is to get out while the party’s still in full swing. That way, the party never sucks.

Fine examples are the dreamy piano-driven “This Is What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted” or “Banlieue” which has Smith getting his baritone on amidst Lukas Wooller’s swirling electronics and an expertly executed rhythm section or the guitar driven “Waves Of Fear” featuring some of the strongest guitar work Duncan Lloyd has done. Elsewhere, “Wolf Among Men” braves New Wave territory while the title track is sure to be an instant crowd favorite

It’s almost a disservice to review The National Health as anything that might be said or typed or written about the album will not give listeners the full scale of the grandioseness that lies within. “Best of” lists were created so that albums like The National Health could be put on them. In other words, it’s a great fucking album and demands your attention.

The National Health is out now digitally in North America through Itunes or Amazon. Another fine option is through the Maximo Park website. Do this now.

Grade: A



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