Maximo Park have always slipped through the cracks in the US, a fact that borders on the criminal: besides being one of the most consistent post-Britpop acts around, the Newcastle quintet is also one of the genre's most adventurous bands. Whereas their early work was mostly guitar-based (check the spindly post-punk of single "Apply Some Pressure"), the group have boosted their keyboard quotient and nervy new-wave homages. Accordingly, The National Health, Maximo Park's fourth studio album, is a distinct progression from 2009's Quicken the Heart: although the disc is still an ace distillation of the group's strengths (piano/synth-based tunes with compact pop choruses), the tempos aren't quite as giddy or unhinged. In the hands of producer Gil Norton, however, these moods veer from pensive (the stunning, piano-dominated "This Is What Becomes of the Broken Hearted") to romantic (the brisk jangle-pop "Take Me Home") without losing urgency. And Norton's deft touch magnifies the frantic, energetic timbre of The National Health's wiry moments — the galloping piano-punk title track, mod-pop skiffle ("Until the Earth Would Open"), and skinny-tie power-pop ("Wolf Among Men"). The result is a no-frills, consistently engaging album with heart — and hooks — to spare.
MAXIMO PARK + STAGNANT POOLS + ZAMBRI | Middle East, 472 Mass Ave, Cambridge | September 10 @ 8 pm | 18+ | $17 | 617.864.3278