Anything you can do, I can do better. Or at least that’s what Newcastle-based Maxïmo Park seem to be aiming for following the critical acclaim levelled at Sunderland’s wide-eyed musos The Futureheads. Revivalist sensibilities? Check. Sharp dress sense? Check. Broad north east accent? Check. But are you any good, Maxïmo Park?
On the basis of the first half of this, their debut LP – which includes recent chart highlights Apply Some Pressure and Graffiti – the answer is a resounding “yes”. The second half, however, is another matter entirely.
The album’s opener, Signal And Sign, is a belter, complete with obligatory synth shenanigans (oh, you crazy retro kids), and things go from good to better with Apply Some Pressure – a thrilling, engaging and authentic stab at punk, post-punk and all things thereafter. “You know that I would love to see you in that dress / I hope that I will live to see you undress,” rhymes Paul Smith – Billingham’s answer to Casanova.
Graffiti meets the same sky-high standards with a crunching chord progression (and inclusion of the splendid hammond organ) before Postcard Of A Painting dares to imitate The Jam and, brilliantly, compares favourably.
Both Going Missing and I Want You To Stay sound like the Geordie Strokes, and together complete an utterly compelling collection of six essential tracks. They also, unfortunately, mark A Certain Trigger’s peak. Limassol, although enjoyable in itself, simply doesn’t manage to push the same buttons that have, until this point, been jabbed, stroked and tweaked to all sorts of grin-inducing results.
As if they have run out of ideas, Maxïmo Park cross the fine line between revivalist and derivative – with even Smith’s self-assured lyrics and distinctive vocals failing to engage after a while.
The Coast Is Always Changing and the terrifically named Now I’m All Over The Shop are all well and good – even loveable at points – but, taken in a wider context, are Rover Metros to the Ferraris of a Decent Days And Nights (The Futureheads) or Banquet (Bloc Party).
Acrobat is by far the worst offender: You may well lap up its Top Gun-esque drone and spoken word delivery if you sport an “ironic” mullet, but the rest of us will just cringe and pretend, for Maxïmo Park’s sake, that we never heard it. Yeah, that’s right. The CD skipped, honest.
In the end, though, we cannot forget the highs of A Certain Trigger – its shit-hot top end, the occassional moments of inspiration thereafter. It remains an awfully good first effort, and the boys clearly have some exciting ideas – not enough to fill the entire disc, but exciting nonetheless. Alreet?