Music

Maximo Park: Missing Songs

Maximo newbies should try falling in love with A Certain Trigger first, but definitely save some room in your collection for Missing Songs.

Newcastle's Maximo Park are not ones to skimp on their recorded output. With only one proper album to their name, they have issued enough material to occupy an entire shelf of the most avid fan's collection. Along with the single disc version of their terrific debut, A Certain Trigger, Warp Records also put out a limited edition two-fer that offered seven additional tracks recorded live in Tokyo. If you've heard A Certain Trigger (and I sincerely hope you have), then you know that nearly every track is catchy enough to go straight to the Top of the Pops. Their label is working diligently toward that elusive goal, having just released their fourth UK single, most of which appear in multiple formats. The stack keeps growing.

For those of us here in the U.S., the band have now added one more sweet plum to the already overflowing cornucopia. Missing Songs compiles 12 B-sides, including demo versions of three songs from A Certain Trigger. A few of these tracks had previously only seen life on vinyl, with this collection marking their most welcome digital debut.

B-sides are an intriguing facet of the recording industry. The best of them can add a whole new dimension to a fan's appreciation for an already great band. U2's extra tracks from The Joshua Tree, for instance, could have made for a separate album good enough to eclipse anything they've recorded since Achtung Baby. Other times, an artist will offer us nothing but single edits, mediocre isolated live tracks, or instrumental versions of the A-side.

Fortunately, Maximo Park have more to offer. While not exactly a revelation, the nine non-demo tracks on Missing Songs broaden our view of the band, showing them to be capable of more than the hyper-hooky pop of A Certain Trigger. That album already hinted at their creative breadth with the Weill-esque "Now I'm All over the Shop" and the smolderingly lovely "Acrobat", both of which were tucked away near the record's end. This new collection ventures further out, serving up an unrecognizable cover of John Lennon's "Isolation", from 1970's Plastic Ono Band. Played at perhaps quadruple the original's tempo, Maximo Park transform it into something more closely resembling Joy Division's song of the same name, only sunnier and with squiggling blurps of rhythm guitar instead of swelling synths.

The remaining tracks are all originals, revealing influences like Meat Is Murder-era Smiths on the jangly rockabilly of "A Year of Doubt" and XTC on "Trial and Error", with its melodies that twist oddly but never fail to please. On "Stray Talk", we discover just how well formed the band's musical identity is, when nothing more than Paul Smith's voice and some strummed acoustic guitar chords still thoroughly communicate the Maximo Park sound. Elsewhere, on "My Life in Reverse", we find that their usual sonic palette is far from dried up. A little more garagey and brooding than the typical album track, it wouldn't have sat well on a A Certain Trigger, but it remains a quite worthwhile example of their agitated pop. "Fear of Falling" is even rawer. It's got energy to spare and a surprising Beach Boys "ooh-woo", but is otherwise a bit unremarkable.

To varying degrees, this is the case for the rest of the material on Missing Songs. It's all quality stuff, including the demos, but it's likely to be of limited appeal to anyone but the group's already established fan base. As a self-ascribed member of said clique, the dozen spins I've given this CD in the past week have been a blast, enhancing my appreciation for a band I already really like. Maximo newbies should try falling in love with A Certain Trigger first, but definitely save some room in your collection for Missing Songs. You're going to want it all.

6

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image