Review Summary: With A Certain Trigger, Maximo Park have ensured their new record is going to sell loads.
What is art-Rock? Paul Smith, Maximo's mouthpiece, used to be an art teacher before he joined the band. It's the sort of ironic creative license you get to do something presumably experimental. Of course, this doesn't mean that Maximo Park is art-Rock per se. In fact, it's about as experimental as The Jam, and in parts is The Jam. But Smith and co have balls, and for that bit of Newcastle accent, you'd better listen.
Okay, so this came out over a year and a half ago, but given that MP's next release is about a month away, it's good to have a reference. I'd heard Going Missing some time before the entire LP, and immediately thought "Franz Ferdinand". The cynicism didn't end there. The lyrics were too 'contrived' and 'influenced' for me to believe them immediately. The bass was too low. But perseverance and the Kaiser Chiefs forced me to get the whole album, and the rest as they say, is an exercise in death metal.
The good bits first. The album is not boring. At all. Even when Smith stretches the last "You know the way I feeeeeeel" on I Want You To Stay, it just 'fits'. Lyrically, like most 'art-Rock' out of England, it's good satire and amusing at times but you do get the feeling that Smith may actually be a little sneaky. Relationships, loneliness, the whole hog. "You better run along, back to your new man" (Limassol). It doesn't usually get better than this, and at times takes one back to the opening strains of Jacqueline on Franz Ferdinand.
The jewel of the album has to be Apply Some Pressure. Like a crazy ball bouncing at high speed, it jumps from here to there, ending in a fantastic hook that guarantees you won't move to the next song before listening to this again.
The album doesn't really fail at too many places. Given the horde of similar bands coming out of England, it's easy to find fault, and er... similarity. Thematically, it's sort of what one would expect. Smith does promise though "The path you take will never make you happy". At the end of the LP there's piano and high hat galore, in what seems like theme songs from old American sitcoms. It's a little 'efforted' to get the chorus right, and the hook catchy enough. But it works to an extent, and one wonders what they'd have achieved if they'd spent a little more time doing and a little less time thinking. It becomes increasingly obvious when right at the end Smith suddenly turns Jim Morrison on us with Acrobat.
As it is, they were nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2005, the same year as Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party and Hard-Fi. Unfortunately for them, Franz Ferdinand won it in 2004.