Shanti | Pittsburgh, PA USA | 06/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, there is a ridiculous number of post-punk bands out there today- The Futureheads, Kaiser Chiefs, etc... and while I love them all, the boys of Maximo Park have proven that they can stand out. The killer riffs and beats are only the beginning- frontman Paul Smith (in addition to proving that combovers can be sexy and making scissor kicks look effortless) writes lyrics full of wit and heartache and sings his heart out with the most conviction I've seen in a lead singer in the past few years. But anyway, to the album...
"Signal And Sign", the album's opener, is a strong beginning with a really catchy beat that sucks you in, but by the time "Apply Some Pressure" opens, the beat is downright infectious. This song is my personal favorite, not just because it is dangerously catchy- it's got everything from the singer's "fragile desperation" (as Smith put it) to the hope of starting all over again and being in love. Maximo Park have been accused of being pessimistic, but this song shows that there is real hope in the midst of all the desperation.
"Graffiti", the album's most popular single, is quintessential Maximo Park- the line "I'll do graffiti if you sing to me in French... What are we doing here if romance isn't dead?" is witty, romantic, and powerful.
"Postcard Of A Painting" is usually overlooked by listeners but it would have been prime single material. The melody bounces along and as Smith cries out "Your eyes are big when they're so close, why can't we say goodbye in public?" the conviction in his voice is amazingly powerful. This definitely has an infectious pop beat that rivals more popular singles like the previous two tracks.
"Going Missing" is one of the more depressing songs but has a melody that sticks in your head, even five days later, when you find yourself singing "This can't go on, so I should just forget it, forget it, forget it..." While the singer is only imagining his love with someone else ("Mr. Brightside"-esquely), you can feel a foreboding feeling throughout the song.
"I Want You To Stay" is my next favorite after "Apply Some Pressure". The beat for this song is very rhythmic and yet different from the other songs on the album. The lyrics paint a vivid, romantic portrait that makes you feel the pain of a lost love that the singer refuses to and can't ever forget. It's the most heartfelt, tearjerking song on the whole album, and really shows off Maximo Park's romanticism, poetry, and ability to make dangerously catchy pop songs that can be mainstream and still touch the heart.
"Limassol" has got a lot of really good keyboard and is quite poppy. It's probably the most pessimistic/angsty but with that angst comes a lot of passion. The line "Saw the lights on in your window, even though they said you'd gone" is a little stalkerish, but pretty good.
"The Coast Is Always Changing" is very direct ("I am young and I am lost"- a big theme of this album) and bittersweet. It's witty like the rest of the album but has an especially earnest quality. The keyboards are really New-Wavey and the song reminds me of the Smiths a lot.
"The Night I Lost My Head" is a little bit humorous as it's basically about meeting someone special, but being just a bit too
inebriated. Just a bit.
"Once A Glimpse" is ridiculously catchy. You can hear the bass and guitar play off each other perfectly- the whole song is brimming with energy and angst. It's definitely one that makes you want to jump around.
"Now I'm All Over The Shop" is different in that the singer is in control of the situation, and that dynamic makes it very interesting. Beginning few lines are especially catchy, and the line "I know you'll be fine now that you're not mine!" is one of my favorite lines in the whole album.
"Acrobat" is definitely different- it's spoken-word, which is often the downfall of many a well-meaning artist (just think Madonna's "American Life" rap)... yet instead of standing out as awkward it stands out as especially poignant. It also slows the album down a bit and gives you a bit of a break from all the crazy dancing you've probably been doing since you started listening... I know it isn't just me... seriously...
"Kiss You Better" races quickly and is maybe the most optimistic song on the album. Smith exits pleading "You, you're so scared, that you're just gonna let it happen!" and before you know it, it's over. In my personal experience, it ends before you can realize it and leaves you optimistic, despite the final line not exactly being full of sunshine.
As for flaws- the only flaw I see is that the album ends too soon! Maximo Park have definitely set the bar high for other bands and for themselves, but if their sophomore effort turns out half as good as "A Certain Trigger" it'll be a knockout (in a good way). Many accuse Maximo Park of being no different from other post-punk bands, even though every second of A Certain Trigger says otherwise. Many artists make catchy pop songs, others make romantic and lyrical songs, but Maximo Park is one of the few bands out there who can combine all these factors so well. Paul Smith, Lukas Wooller (keyboards), Duncan Lloyd (guitar), Archis Tiku (bass) and Tom English (drums) come together to that killer formula that makes Maximo Park soar above the rest. Long live post-punk..."