The UK art-rock renaissance, unwittingly launched eighteen months ago by the now all-conquering Franz Ferdinand, yielded a mixed bag of second wavers. For every divine pop creation, there's been an associated damp squib borne of incessant hype. Combine that with the recent revival of the North East's musical fortunes thanks to The Futureheads and, less successfully, The Golden Virgins, and it's clear that Maximo Park have emerged at an auspicious time. Whether the Newcastle five-piece can ably jockey for position in such a crowded field is questionable.
Luckily, from the opening drums of Inspiral Carpets do The Fall sing-along Signal And Sign, A Certain Trigger delivers in spades. Apply Some Pressure, with its call and response motif, is as finely crafted a spiky three-minute single as one could ask for. By instantly following it with the grand, building majesty of Graffitti marks Maximo Park out as something special. Frontman Paul Smith's clipped Northern tones deliver each song with a pleasing mix of urgency and poignancy that, at least once on the intro to I Want You To Stay, strays close to Phil Lynnot.
For the most part A Certain Trigger sticks to a defined formula - salvos of danceable punk funk that rarely stray beneath a frenetic tempo. Which isn't to say that Maximo Park are formulaic per se, just that it's not immediately clear where they go from here. That said, the notable attempts to stray from the territory, on Acrobat's Arab Strap narration meets My Bloody Valentine drone and the affable downbeat indie jangle of album closer Kiss You Better, are convincing enough.
A Certain Trigger confirms Maximo Park's place at the vanguard of the revitalised British scene. Let's hope they've got the wherewithal to stay there.
Read more of Greg's reviews at Swing Batter Batter!