Music-Slam Album Review: Maximo Park – A Certain Trigger (2005)


Love, lust and accusation; perfect themes for founding an album on, not least in the case of new arrivals Maximo Park and their immense creation of a full length debut record in the shape and sound of A Certain Trigger. Hailing from the same part of the world as their freshly dispatched predecessors The Futureheads, Maximo (Max-ee-mo or Maxi-mo, we’re unsure either way yet) have had to suffer the inevitable pigeon-holing that has swept them into the same vein as their tour buddies and fellow Geordies.

Although the similarities are undeniably there (they even sing in their own accents too!), MP’s approaches to melody and its construction are a little less aggressive than Hyde and co., siding with a less jaunty more free-flow style. Graffiti starts with immense potential, all drums and rhythm guitar, chiming keynotes scattered among its chords. Singer Paul Smith’s vocals are effortless, not so much competing with the instrumental but cooperating instead, his lyrics and delivery profound but almost conversational (‘what are we doing here if romance isn’t dead’).

Apply Some Pressure however owes much to The Futureheads’ First Day; MP’s playful opening riff sounding similar to the new angular anthem. Again Smith’s lyrics take hold, expressing positions of compromised objectivity; ‘what’s my view, well how am I supposed to know/write a review, well how objective can I be’, and confessions of lust and longing: ‘you know that I would love to see you in that dress/I hope that I will live to see you undressed’.

The Night I Lost My Head, a tale of regret at meeting the other half ‘on a night I lost my head’, leans a little more towards the tightly punk aggression that presently characterises the UK’s alternative scene, while the penultimate Acrobat opens a heavily distorted softer side to the band, prompting startling comparisons to artful veterans The Flaming Lips’ work on their Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots record. Even the fanciful but emotionally forthright lyrics (‘I am not an acrobat/I cannot perform these tricks for you’) hark back to the likes of TFL’s All We Have Is Now and Do You Realise?

The bitterness of a broken heart and its will to survive is articulated again through their down-to-earth style in a synth-heavy Limassol; ‘run along back to your new man…we’re gonna head for new horizons’. In Kiss You Better love rivals come head to head in a melodic confession that ‘if it comes down to me and him/you know I’d kiss you better’, followed by a rousing slap around the ears encouraging action against cowardice; ‘are you so scared that you’re just gonna let it happen?’

Maximo Park have succeeded in beautifully generating an album free of pretentiousness; they deliver more than they promise. For a debut album, as they go these days in the new Britannia, it’s right up there with those by bands championed by the music press for the past year (Bloc Party, The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs, The Bravery). This band has earned themselves the pleasure and pain of helping keep the British music scene afloat in the post-Libertines aftermath, and on the strength of A Certain Trigger, rightly so.

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