A Certain Trigger, by Maximo Park
Suggested by Craig Scott
Apparently, Maximo Park is actually a place.
Its full name is Máximo Gómez Park, better known as Domino Park, and it’s situated in Little Havana, Miami. Why an English rock band from Newcastle are named after a public park in Florida is anyone’s guess, but it opens a fine line of discussion for this review’s intro.
So! Let’s look at some bands named after places. They are manifold.
First, there’s your bands named after American cities or states. You’ve got your Bostons, your Chicagos, your Phoenix. Your Kansas, your Baton Rouge, your Texas.
Outside of America, there’s Berlin. Beirut. Nazareth. Widening the net, there’s Japan, Brazil, Jamaica, Spain. Widening further, there’s Europe, there’s Aisa.
But this is simply a shopping list. We want the more esoteric suggestions, band names that can give Maximo Park a run for their money. Bands like East 17, or All Saints, or Cypress Hill, or Linkin Park. The E Street Band, L.A. Guns, The Detroit Spinners. Backstreet Boys. Fountains of Wayne.
And this project? We’ve had Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, and Sleaford Mods, and White Buffalo, and Pannonia All Star Ska Orchestra, and The Besnard Lakes, and London Grammar, and, of course, Frank Ocean.
It seems that place names are a rich vein of band name gemstones. Will the music of Maximo park be sparkly too?
As with what seems like ninety percent of these albums, I knew little of Maximo Park outside of the album cover for A Certain Trigger. For some reason, this stark image of vocalist Paul Smith in the throes of a frenzied dance has had some sort of transcendent impact on my brain as it’s lodged in there like my six-times-table or the words to Will Smith’s Boom Shake The Room.
Initially, I’m very warm to the Maximo Park sound. They’re a vibrant and forceful outfit, with a tuneful post-punk approach to their music that’s showcased by the quirky and demonstrative vocalist Paul Smith. The opener Signal and Sign is a strident and bouncing affair, and when I hit my standout Apply Some Pressure I’m delighted to find that I know this track already, and I enjoy it immensely. And as the album passes, the hits just keep on coming. From the anthemic The Coast is Always Changing to the reflective Now I’m All Over The Shop, creative ideas abound from opening bar to final drumbeat, and there’s a lot to unpack and digest.
As long-time readers know, I appreciate a vocal delivered in a northern working-class vernacular, with bands such as The Arctic Monkeys being fine examples. However, while Maximo Park lean into this quite heavily, I find the mannered delivery does irritate a touch as the album proceeds. It’s strange that something I embrace in other bands has become something that actively turns me off Maximo Park. Also, Arctic! That’s a place name too!
What starts off in superb style does weaken a touch as the tracks roll by, each song diminishing in strength as familiarity and ennui bite chunks out of our enthusiasm. But overall, it’s a strong listen that elicits an equally strong 7/10 score.