Ayo Jegede
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July 17, 2005
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Rock Music Reviews
Maximo Park
A Certain Trigger

you're confused, aren't you?

the critical diaspora is fragmented in a billion different directions when discussing the same post-punk, new wave prism. Franz Ferdinand came out with hot shit a year ago, and since then it feels as though the entire scene has been inundated with diarrhetic dribble, bands who may merit a handclap or two but will never receive the ovation their music actively seeks. all of it peaked no more ironically than with Art Brut, whose raillery towards the phenomenon on Bang Bang Rock and Roll was lauded for being, you guessed it, a respectable post-punk new wave effort. The Futureheads. Kaiser Chiefs. British Sea Power. Maximo Park. it makes critical forfeit tempting, doesn't it?

"What's my view?/well how am I supposed to know/write a review/well how objective can I be?" so goes the chorus of 'Apply Some Pressure,' perhaps the most shamelessly catchy song on the album. shameless because it hews religiously towards rudimentary bridge-chorus-bridge post-punk and maintains this formula throughout A Certain Trigger with only slight variations. abbreviated listens will only give the album simplistic marks, positing it as amusing but altogether indiscriminating when juxtaposed with their cohorts. but it's false to mark as a detriment their successful exposition of their musical influences, especially when closer examination yields instead an astute and subtle extrapolation. such examination also shows how understimated the sub-genre is as a whole.

one feature is Lukas Wooller's intelligent use of his synth keyboards, managing the new wave undertones that are often demolished by angular guitars. his lead-in on opener 'Signal and Sign' lends a soft, catchy beginner until the axes are introduced uniformly, Paul Smith singing, "I hope you felt cheated at home/with all your lies, lies, lies, lies, lies." on 'Grafitti' it gets expanded to an organ sound, and while not the most pronounced instrument, its furtive placement offers a robust counterpoint to the busy chords. the keyboards become more acute for 'Limasoll,' progressing with a more noticeable bite than before, and regular piano notes adorn 'The Night I Lost My Head,' offering tension and muslce to the piece.

but this isn't to say that A Certain Trigger is fully reliant on a protean keyboardist. Smith, guitarist Duncan Lloyd, bassist Archis Tiku, and drummer Tom English are the primary force, and while they stick to copacetic 2/4 and 4/4 anthems most often, they offer just enough deviation to surprise and delight. 'I Want You to Stay' maintains the same speed and direction until it nears the end, when the plucks are traded in for riffs and the cymbals stage a frenzied descent. the same vigor is heard again on the chors of 'Once, A Glimpse,' the guitars roaring brazenly and with their full heft as almost a riposte to the basic bridge which preceded it. English's performance on 'Now I'm All Over The Shop' puts the tempo center, depressing the influence of the guitars and keyboard while keeping the ethos of the genre as a whole.

so before you dismiss the veritable slew of new bands emerging from this relatively new (unless you remember The Jam, XTC and Pulp) throng, first investigate. the question is not whether they sound alike through casual ears, but whether or not their careful handling of influences gels into something unique. it'll be easier to separate those who are just purely aping the style (Louis XIV, The Bravery) from those whose style merely extends and every so slightly permutates the original. A Certain Trigger isn't original in that it maintains a genre's strict requisites, but original in how it articulates those requisites in question.

Release date: May 31, 2005
Label: Warp
Rating: 8.7 / 10

[RMR]