Maximo Park's last album was a fine follow-up to their sharp, sparkling 2005 debut 'A Certain Trigger', and while it sold well and displayed an effective evolution of their sound - less lyrics about graffiti and singing in French, more depth and sombre moments - it didn't set the music scene ablaze as brightly as its predecessor had. Those who had already fallen for Paul Smith's wordy indie-pop musings weren't disappointed, though, and nor shall they be with the Geordies' third album.
Smith certainly has a way with a lyric; his on-stage persona has garnered comparisons to Morrissey in the past, and his kitchen-sink vignettes perhaps owe an equal debt to the Manc. Whether it's a simple line like "On our knees against the windowsill, watching the sheets of lightning flash" ('Questing, Not Coasting') or "The comforting ache of the summer holidays / Pointless days pining, afternoons whining" ('The Kids Are Sick Again'), there's an intrinsic Britishness about Smith that's difficult not to be won over by.
Musically, enlisting producer Nick Launay to give them a new angle was a clever move. Although these songs could hardly be defined as 'raw' (Launay has recently worked with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Grinderman, amongst others), most are burnished with an understated sense of atmosphere - see aforementioned lead single 'The Kids Are Sick Again', or the Postcard Records-jangle of closer 'I Haven't Seen Her In Ages'.
True, at their core, Maximo Park are still a band in thrall to the post-punk era, and there's plenty of jerky guitar and forceful riffage in operation - but they brand it with their own signature, as well as managing to keep things engrossing for the duration. A completely engaging return.