[13 March 2014]
Maximo Park started out as a fairly respected member of the post-punk revival in the early 2000s. It’s sad to say that their newest album would have been more enjoyable if the British rockers claimed it was a parody album. It sounds harsh, but Too Much Information is easily one of the most unashamedly campy and cheesy albums released in recent memory. The band never has a moment of self-realization, playing nearly every song with a straight face, making the entire enterprise cringe-worthy.
Too Much Information starts off fairly strong. The one-two punch of “Give, Get, Take” and “Brain Cells” opens the album. “Give, Get, Take” is undoubtedly the catchiest song here, keyboards infused with sugary energy push the song along and the instantaneous chorus is sure to be a winner live. “Brain Cells” has Maximo Park doing their best impression of the Turtles and contains Paul Smith’s best vocal performance. Things spiral downward at an uncomfortable pace afterwards. “Lydia, the Ink Will Never Dry” has a riff from the softest of ‘70s soft-rock, “My Bloody Mind” attempts to have a heavy stomp but fails miserably, and “I Recognize the Light” sounds scary similar to Love’s “A House is Not a Motel” though Maximo Park’s version is leagues below Love’s classic track.
Those songs suffer from general instrumentation issues but a good chunk of the other tracks become nearly unlistenable thanks to unprecedented levels of camp. Right after the solid opening duo “Leave this Island” comes in, one of the most wince inducing songs released this year. “Have you ever been compelled / Under a spell / From a protagonist who knows you far too well,” is the opening. It’s the most laughably terrible line from an album full of cheese infused lyrics. Maximo Park play it so straight that the laughs come from how unintentionally bad it is. The cheesy beat and synths that dominate “Leave this Island” seem straight from a Flight of the Concords’ record or a Mighty Boosh sketch. Half of the time it’s hard to tell if Maximo Park want to actually be taken seriously, if they do they’ve failed tremendously.
Smith’s vocal work is a big part of the problem. His bloated croon quickly becomes annoying and he seems completely incapable of holding the heavier songs together. “My Bloody Mind” has a few sections that seem to have been stolen from a better song. When Maximo Park aren’t trying to do an overblown rocker they can be quite good, and once Smith avoids his talk-singing he gets some compelling moments. Those great sections aren’t so much few and far between as they are completely engulfed. The high energy shot of “Her Name Was Audre” is the only high point on the second half of the album, acting as a brief respite between subpar songs, sandwiched between the bland “Midnight On the Hill” and the sappy closer “Where We’re Going”. Brimming with half formed ideas and floundering melodies, Too Much Information is easily one of the most uninspired albums released so far in 2014. Hopefully, nothing else this insipid will be released this year.