Maximo Park have made a comeback with new single ‘Child Of The Flatlands’. The band last put out new music in 2018 with the one-off single ‘North By North East’, and their last studio album was 2017’s Risk to Exist. This is also the first new music that they have recorded as a trio. Lauren Laverne kicked off the week by premiering ‘Child Of The Flatlands’ on her BBC 6 Music show this morning.
Our new leftfield pop odyssey ‘Child Of The Flatlands’ is available now in all the usual online places. It’s been a while since we released new music… we hope you enjoy it! https://t.co/uZF67QV2dY pic.twitter.com/UVXbyAMmai
— Maximo Park (@maximopark) September 14, 2020
‘Child Of The Flatlands’ comes with a video that can’t be described as anything short of technicolour. Even before watching the video, the single bears reminiscence to eighties synth pop bands; you can sort of hear that it takes inspiration from concrete structures. In the video, directed by Greg Hodgson, this whiff of inspiration seems to erupt before your eyes and you hardly know where to look as the sound suddenly becomes completely visual.
Yet concrete is pitched against the natural world, as lead singer Paul Smith croons: “nature always wins, makes itself known.” Certainly, ‘Child Of The Flatlands’ seems to have the energy of a fight bubbling under the surface.
Generally, ‘Child Of The Flatlands’ deals in abstracts and broad themes. It does not strike you as a song speaking directly about the last six months – but this line feels prophetic: “the libraries are closing down now / where will the children go when they feel all alone?” Its energy is changing all the time; it opens with urgency but at times it is slow and intimate. Smith calls it “episodic”.
Smith continues to present the complexities of their new single. He says: “Child Of The Flatlands is an affectionate look at both the psychic and physical edgelands of the town where I grew up, punctuated by snapshots of modern Britain as viewed from a distant hillside.
“It’s about the inevitability of nature (in all senses of the word) over the order we try to impose on it. The quiet, melancholy choruses lament the loss of community spaces for marginalised people, and the overall pace is meant to evoke a long walk, collaging found sound, strings and insistent piano to create a mildly psychedelic pop odyssey.
“We commissioned Greg Hodgson to reflect the distorted blur of youth through his VHS lens, and to create a dreamlike vision of Teesside that reflects the episodic nature of the music. Hopefully viewers will recognise something of their own youth, playing in places where nature encroaches upon the urban landscape.”
Certainly, the combination of lurid technicolour and the synth pop inspiration is somehow nostalgic. At the same time, ‘Child Of The Flatlands’ is unmistakably Maximo Park, although slower, serious, and even more poetic.
A couple of weeks ago, Maximo Park took their turn at headlining the Virgin Money Unity Arena, the UK’s first socially distanced arena. It was opened by Sam Fender earlier this year, and its upcoming performances include Chase & Status, Kaiser Chiefs and last week’s worthy contender for the battle of the charts, Declan McKenna. You can find out more here.