Risk to Exist, Maxïmo Park's sixth album, is a collection of irresistible pop songs about anger, hope, resistance and, above all, empathy – a knockout fusion of music and message from a band on extraordinary form. Main melodicist Duncan Lloyd, along with Lukas Wooller, provided the band with a host of diverse new arrangements, sweeping from machine gun guitar riffs on "Risk To Exist," to the house-inspired euphoria of "Alchemy." Risk to Exist marks a musical progression for the band, with the addition of a horn section and new bassist Paul Rafferty from Hot Club de Paris.
After taking a break for band members to pursue their various solo projects, Maxïmo Park recorded the album in the autumn of 2016 at Wilco's Chicago studio, The Loft. They chose producer and engineer Tom Schick, known for his work with Parquet Courts and Low as well as Wilco. Through Schick, they approached Low's Mimi Parker to sing backing vocals on five songs. Every song on Risk to Exist combines keen intelligence, emotional conviction and visceral energy. The stirring title track was prompted by the Foreign Office's shocking decision in 2014 to stop supporting search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean. The rampaging "Get High (No I Don't)" deals with how the likes of Nigel Farage hammer poisonous ideas into the heart of mainstream politics. "Make What You Can" was written in response to news stories about the effects of austerity on disabled people.
Paul Smith's literate lyrics look beyond the news to examine present strife via some unexpected sources. "The Hero," another song about migration, draws inspiration from Luchino Visconti's 1960 movie Rocco and His Brothers. "The Reason I Am Here" adapts a line from Lorca's poem Landscape of a Pissing Multitude and reflects on Smith's own decision to remain in his hometown. The thread that ties all these songs together is compassion and the importance of human connection so it's only right that it should culminate in "Alchemy," a protest that turns into a love song.