Sunday, February 26, 2006

Maxïmo Park / Missing Songs / Rating 6.4

Missing Songs is the rare curio that actually inspires curiosity.

Don't believe the hype because there is next to nothing in PFM's entire review that supports that closing statement.

PFM says: "The rest of the world be damned, Maxïmo Park had a great 2005."

Actually Maxïmo had a great year in the UK and that is about it. American interest in the band was unfortunatley VERY mild in comparison. The U.S. sales are barely over 10% of what the UK purchased.

PFM says: "Maxïmo Park are a pop band lacking pop music's crucial feature: its immediacy."

Not so.

To quote myself here is what I said about Maxïmo Park's A Certain Trigger in an old Tuning Fork post from last year:

"I am going to go out on a limb here and say at least in a recording studio Maxïmo Park reminds me of post punk’s answer to Rites Of Spring.That's right I said Rites of Spring. A Certain Trigger shares the same kind of messy imperfect brutal honesty that made me worship R.O.S. over a decade ago yet it also carries the endearing sappy Brit-bite of the Smiths.( w/ the addition of a keyboard) "

PFM goes onto say: "A Certain Trigger cloyed before it joyed; yes, it was a grower. I'm convinced that had partly to do with the way the band recorded the album. Favoring muted dynamics (Sam used these very words in his first Maxïmo review) and fat, diffuse guitar and drum sounds that belied the music's rhythmic intensity, they leavened and prolonged what could've been a sugary hit-and-run."

Paul Epworth who has produced Maxïmo Park has also recorded post punk favorites like Bloc Party, The Futureheads, and The Rakes to name a few. Not to dwell on the production but at least for me, Paul Epworth is as important to this list of bands as the members themselves.

PFM says: "So it goes with this collection. The songs don't wow, but neither did/does A Certain Trigger. "

A Certain Trigger pleases from front to back and Missing Songs does not but who expects a collection of unreleased material, live tracks, and demo versions to totally blow their mind anyhow? This particular record serves two purposes (I lied it is actually three but the 3rd comes later), it keeps the band's name alive in the press and fresh in the minds of its fans and it offers the Maxïmo collector something to savor until the next proper full length release. I agree with the 6.4 rating strictly because while I am a fan who appreciates these songs, it still is the ugly step child to their debut release.

ATTN ALL LABELS: No label should release these kinds of marketing tools, I mean records and try to hype them as an equal to a normal full length. Secondly music journalists should never approach them as such.

PFM says: "Just as on the debut, singer Paul Smith exercises an English probity that starts boring and ends up either charming or still boring, depending whether or not you have the time."

Funny how the most frustrating writer to read in PFM’s history (Sam Ubl) is the one to comment upon a band’s use of the English language. Oh the irony.

Paul’s lyrics aside, the man knows how to fill a song with enough hooks to fill a tackle box. Maxïmo’s rock formula may be on the simple side but their songs have a jingle like quality that after just one listen you will find yourself humming for days after. Amazingly even their second rate material carries this winning song writing gene.

PFM's parting words are: "Missing Songs is the rare curio that actually inspires curiosity."
Is that even a compliment? How does that sum up his review in the slightest? By definition isn't curio just an abbreviation of curious?

The 6.4 rating and the review itself would lead anyone to think Sam is in fact feeling uninspired by Maxïmo Park and it is nearly impossible to believe Sam reviewed A Certain Trigger and gave it an impressive rating of 8.4.

As I have said in many of my reviews before, these kinds of odds and ends collections aren’t meant to lure in new fans, just keep the old ones happy and in same cases will force record stores to create a Maxïmo Park header card which gets the band out of the ocean of assorted rock cds starting with the letter M and into their very own section.

FYI: bands with their own place card / section in a record store sell better than those without so many labels try to pad a band's catalog just to ensure special placement in the bin.

One last point about this record: Maxïmo's debut cd was a bit on the pricey side for a relatively unknown band trying to make it in the States but this new record appears to be selling for a hunk of change less.

At least something about this record is a step forward.

PS: PFM says "vegetal folkies Gravenhurst." Vegetal? Gravenhurst are neither a stinky wine or vegetable related. I don’t even think the word organic would fit here. Sons of Slint maybe but decayed foliage? No.