Album Review: Drew Worthley & No Spinoza – Maxim

Maxim is the new collaborative album between Worthing-based folk pop artist Drew Worthley and York’s own No Spinoza, real name Thomas Pearson. With ten tracks all reimagining childhood nursery rhymes, it seemed to be an intriguing prospect. Here’s my track by track review.

By Graeme Smith

The album ones with the mysterious plucked strings of Three Blind Mice. You get a sense of movement, of little feet scampering about, up to no good. Gentle layers of percussion, guitar, keys and glitching electronic elements enter. The harmonised vocals deliver the story with a weighty sense of gravity, adding a sense of drama the story that has become so trivialised. It’s like the hearing it anew.

Six A Song of Sixpence comes next, set against urgent percussion and delicate and distorted layers. It’s frankly astonishing the amount of emotion that Drew and Thomas have breathed into these old tales. I found myself on edge waiting to see how the story unfolded, even though a part of me already knew it well.

Doctor Foster is embellished with chanting choral vocalisations, waltzing strings and moody electronic undertones. Baa Baa Black Sheep is infused with soaring synths, twinkling notes and folk rock guitar. Hey Diddle Diddle is a soft, ambient rework, full of a sense of nostalgia.

Although by this point in the album the formula was clear, I was still excited to hear what was to come. Turns out it was a dark and tantalising version of Jack & Gill, complete with expressive piano. Faint percussion slowly grows, creating the sense of restlessness that accompanies young love.

Pat A Cake is rendered slow and deliberate, delivered with the same kind of methodological discipline as commercial baking. It builds to an In Rainbows-era Radiohead wall of electronic noise. Then comes The Grand Old Duke of York, somehow feeling contemporary and topical despite being written in the 17th Century.

As the album draws close to its end, there’s enough time for an acoustic rendition of Ring O’ Roses. Its arrangement gradually builds with swelling strings and brass, arriving at a life-affirming climax. Then, things are rounded off by title track Maxim. The nursery rhymes are put aside in favour of a five minute instrumental that reinforces all the themes we’ve heard so far. It’s a beautiful way to end.

Maxim is an album that truly has to be heard to be appreciated. From the concept to the execution, Drew and Thomas have really tapped into something with it. You can check out the full album below.