So, I was wearing a t-shirt with “rebel” written on it. It had a red yellow Harrison Ford print effect, and, as so often happens, it looked nice in the shop surrounded by all of its friends. The significance of the word rebel didn’t really occur to me.
Until I wore it of course, at which point people eagerly started pointing out that genuine rebels don’t self-advertise their status in such a manner – that would play into the hands of the bourgeoise forces of law and order, or something. It quickly dawned on me that people thought I was trying to be cool. Shit.
Halfway through a relatively brief Maxmo Park set, holding my beer in such a way as to obscure my revolutionary clothing, I began wondering if a similar thought had ever occurred to Paul Smith or any of his incredibly self-conscious friends. Because Maxmo Park are trying soooo hard.
From their ridiculous, cod-marxist reference name to Smith’s signature hat, Park are just begging you to worship them. I don’t know what it means to be cool, I’m the first to admit, but I’m pretty sure it has to come a bit more naturally.
Hats aside, they’re are still a decent live prospect, and they had enough of a following to pack the Astoria to the rafters on Thursday. Touring their new album, Our Earthly Pleasures, which (like a lot out this year) combines some decent tracks with some ill thought out filler, they left me eager but slightly unable to love them fully, hamstrung by a certain lyrical ineptness. “Five times five equals twenty-five / Don’t you know your times tables by now” sings Smith, bewilderingly. “This is a song about standing up for what you believe in”. You’re not exactly manning the barricades, you know.
When they hit their stride though, they’re excellent. Opening with the superbly catchy Graffiti, and following it up with Girls Who Play Guitars, the standout of Pleasures, it looked for a minute like Park could strip the filler out of both their albums and fill a set with hits. Apply Some Pressure was rapturously received, as was The Coast Is Always Changing, by the typical post football crowd mainstream indie seems to have dug up.
I ended up looking at my watch through some of it, but Park were still pretty good value for their very brief hour and fifteen. If they ditched all the pretence people might really start to like them – for now, its probably worth putting up with all the hats.