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Properly spelled Maxïmo Park, they are a "post-punk revival" band (whatever that means), formed in Tyne and Wear, Britain, in 2000. They take their name from Maximo Gomez Park, Miami; why they chose that particular location, I don't know. The founding members were Tom English, Duncan Lloyd, Archis Tiku and Lukas Wooller; apparently they frequently switched instruments, so they had little musical coherence. They then ran into Paul Smith at a pub, and made him their new singer. The current members are, then: Tom English (drums), Duncan Lloyd (guitar), Archis Tiku (bass), Paul Smith (vocals) and Lukas Wooller (keyboard). They released two vinyl home-recorded EPs before signing with Warp Records in 2004.

Their first full-length album was A Certain Trigger, released in 2005. It was nominated for the Mercury Prize, was quite popular among indie listeners, and was very well-recieved by critics. It's an album full of songs about girls, as so many albums are, but it's quite good, really. The songs are mostly short and fast-paced, with a catcy motif and clever lyrics. It has an energetic, at times unpredictable feeling about it, as though they are discovering their music just as you are. I'm not familiar with either of them, but this album has been likened to the bands The Fall and Wire. On the cover is a guy in a suit hanging in the air, mid-jump. My favourites are Apply Some Pressure (the first song of theirs I heard), Going Missing and The Coast is Always Changing.

A Certain Trigger

  1. Signal and Sign
  2. Apply Some Pressure
  3. Graffiti
  4. Postcard of a Painting
  5. Going Missing
  6. I Want You to Stay
  7. Limassol
  8. The Coast is Always Changing
  9. The Night I Lost My Head
  10. Once, a Glimpse
  11. Now I'm All Over the Shop
  12. Acrobat
  13. Kiss You Better

In 2006 they released a compilation album of B-sides and demos, named Missing Songs; which to me seems odd, since they only had one previous album. That wacky music industry, eh? I haven't heard anything from this album, so I can't comment, other than to list the tracks and describe the cover (it's a woman throwing her arms up and her head back, as though releasing a resounding "FUCK YES!").

Missing Songs

  1. A19 (B-side to Going Missing)
  2. Isolation (B-side to Apply Some Pressure)
  3. My Life in Reverse (B-side to Apply Some Pressure)
  4. Fear of Falling (B-side to Apply Some Pressure)
  5. I Want You to Leave (B-side to Apply Some Pressure)
  6. A Year of Doubt (B-side to Going Missing)
  7. Trial and Error (B-side to Graffiti)
  8. Stray Talk (B-side to Graffiti)
  9. Hammer Horror (B-side to Graffiti)
  10. Apply Some Pressure (original demo)
  11. Graffiti (original demo)
  12. Once, a Glimpse (original demo)

Their second proper album was Our Earthly Pleasures, released in 2007. It didn't cause as much brouhaha as their first, but was recieved favourably by critics and fans. It has a markedly different sound, much softer and more contemplative, without the sharp-edged riffs of their earlier stuff; it doesn't skimp on energy, though. There are fewer songs about girls this time around, but they're still lurking here and there; it feels more like an album about a city. It does feel, at times, as if they're trying too hard to make their music more intellectual. It's the strangest thing; when, in Parisian Skies, Paul names the girl he is addressing, it completely changes the lyric as a whole. On the cover is a long-haired asian guy standing with a long-haired caucasian girl, doing nothing much. Some absolute gems are Girls Who Play Guitars and By the Monument. The final track is a short biography of the eponymous film director.

Our Earthly Pleasures

  1. Girls Who Play Guitars
  2. Our Velocity
  3. Books From Boxes
  4. Russian Literature
  5. Karaoke Plays
  6. Your Urge
  7. The Unshockable
  8. By the Monument
  9. Nosebleed
  10. A Fortnight's Time
  11. Sandblasted and Set Free
  12. Parisian Skies
  13. Robert Altman

Their music is the sort that rarely rests; not necessarily loud and obvious, but nonetheless energetic, whatever the topic. It's odd, then, that they are markedly inert during their live performances. Paul Smith looks as though he's about to weep at every chorus, even during the fun numbers, and I'm not sure why. It must be part of his "method". I'd liken them to Kisschasey or perhaps The Strokes' more recent work. They're the kind of band that do their best to use words like disparate and riposte whenever possible.

Their Third album is expected to be appearing in early 2009. I'm awash with anticipation.

Update: ChimbleySweep has done a great writeup on their new album, Quicken the Heart.

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