Maximo Park’s CD is an ‘earthly pleasure’

Maximo Park

“Our Earthly Pleasures”

3.5 out of 5 stars

Much like the band’s immediate predecessors, including bands such as The Futureheads, The Kaiser Chiefs and, to a lesser extent, Bloc Party and Razorlight, Maximo Park has come out with a second album that is more elaborate and takes more risks than its debut. In order to reach this new level of intricacy, the band brought in producer Gil Norton, who has worked with such artists as The Pixies, Gomez, Feeder and the Foo Fighters.

For you readers out there who may be familiar with or fans of the spunky quintet of Newcastle-ers, fear not. This album is still chock-full of angular guitar lines and an excitable rhythm section accented by various synth lines.

However, rather than just charging through the record with their heads down, the band members took a step back and let the songs develop more fully. This approach doesn’t work all of the time, but it does work for about 85 percent of this album.

In the end though, this album is as catchy as anything coming out of the UK scene today with several songs that rank among the best the band has put out. Above all else, “Earthly Pleasures” shows that Maximo Park has avoided the proverbial “sophomore slump” with a record that is rock solid from start to finish.

Key Tracks: “Karaoke Plays,” “Parisian Skies,” “Nosebleed”

Joseph Arthur & The Lonely Astronauts

“Let’s Just Be”

3 out of 5 stars

Who the hell does Joseph Arthur think he is? It’s been a mere six months since his last LP, “Nuclear Daydream,” hit store shelves, and he has one more album expected to come out sometime in the fall! Perhaps he’s trying to do his best Ryan Adams impersonation?

It seems to me that Arthur has been listening to his copies of “Beggars Banquet” and “Exile on Main Street” so much that he’s worn the grooves out on the vinyl. Why do I say this? Simply because his new album eschews his traditional expansive singer/songwriter material in exchange for a Rolling Stones-esque, sweat-and-adrenaline, rock & roll sound.

“Let’s Just Be” contains no studio tricks, no reverb, no fancy recording methods; it’s just a band, some 16-track tape and a whole bunch of rock.

As it stands, some of the songs are a little bit “bloated,” so to speak. Hell, “Lonely Astronaut” itself clocks in at 20:33. In addition to that, some of Arthur’s choices as a front man come off as being more than a little bit raw, which I suppose is what he was looking to accomplish. It’s a good record, but I’d be amiss to call it his best effort or even his second best effort.

Key Tracks: “Diamond Ring,” “Good Life”