Prior to the debut single Carmen Queasy, which gatecrashed the UK Top 40 with Skin from Skunk Anansie providing vocal prowess, the last you are likely to have heard of Maxim was Prodigy‘s last proper album, The Fat Of The Land, way back in 1997, when he co-wrote the top 3 single Breathe with Liam Howlett.
The partnership is reunited on the next Maxim single, Scheming, but on this album you’ll recognise Maxim’s quintessential vocals and beat on the second track Killing Culture, which is about as close to being Prodigy as this album comes. XL Recordings, responsible for both acts, was obviously spoiled for choice when they decided not to release that track as a single.
Comparisons with Prodigy, for reasons already detailed, are perhaps inevitable. But Maxim’s debut is a far more menacing, darker album than anything Howlett and friends have thus far produced.
Backward Bullet, the final track of the album, is a tour de menace – “Mirror mirror/on the wall/who do we fear/most of all” whispered over an acoustic guitar’s finger-picking of the same note over a full octave while a punchy beat pulses into your head. My Web, which will be released as a single at the turn of the year, sounds like a computer getting shirty down a microphone and is quite fabulous. As if that weren’t enough, every track is different. The press release says so and it is correct. You couldn’t mistake one track for another on this album.
The pace is more sedate than Prodigy too, so the likes of Firestarter and Smack My Bitch Up are not to be found here, but this will get airplay in clubs nevertheless. Virgin Megastore Radio seems to like Scheming as it seems to play it every time I’m in one of Branson’s shops… and what with the glossy feel to the album cover and the photogenic Maxim’s pictures on it, you can’t help but wonder if the UK has itself a new star.