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4.6 out of 5 stars
A Certain Trigger
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2005
There are few bands that can take my heart upon first listen. The Libertines tried and failed for many months to garner my attention, only getting it over the bleak summer months with little else to do. Hell, even The Futureheads, the catchiest pop-punk quartet to come out of 2004 didn't manage to capture my full attention with 'A to B'. So what's so different about Maximo Park?
The main point that many will argue is that, simply, there isn't enough different about them to get them noticed. With this new invasion of suit wearing, guitar wielding bands, it's hard to go against that part. With The Futureheads, Franz Ferdinand and many others grabbing the covers of the NME and getting numerous column inches in tabloids, it's easy to see why many simply dismiss this Newcastle quintet as simply part of the rabble.
The people who are willing to look past the 'me too' exterior are likely to be rewarded with deep, revealing lyrics, catchy riffs and songs that simply won't leave you alone. From the quiet opening of Signal and Sign, the album simply grows and grows. Somehow, Maximo Park have managed to capture all that's good about indie music today and encapsulate it all into one album, adding lyrics much deeper than even the most lovelorn teenager in a suit could hope to pen.
From the albums opening words, you can tell that the band's singer, Paul Smith, is a man with charisma. His singing voice has more personality than nearly every other singer on the scene at the moment. Rather than covering up his Geordie accent with an American twang or inaudible mumblings, Smith seems to flaunt it, and many of the songs are much better for it - indeed, many of the lyrics were written by the man himself, and it's difficult to imagine anyone but him singing them with such a passion.
Much of the album's personality comes from the unique combination of Smith's voice, the catchy riffs and hooks and the surprisingly well worked keyboarding. Although it may not be as fashionable as playing guitar, or as cool as strumming bass, keyboard is the album's main reason for feeling so Epic despite being of a rather short length. It may have cost them a few gigs and a few pages in the NME, but the keyboard has definitely paid off.
The most difficult part of reviewing 'A certain trigger' is picking out a stand-out track. Every song on the album could be called a classic, none showing any signs of weakness, even against the tests of time. However, the one that is probably most rewarding long term is 'The coast is always changing'. 6 months after first hearing this little gem for the first time, it's still going strong.
The weak point of the album is probably 'Acrobat'. Despite being almost a spoken word track, Smith and the boys still manage to make it work exceedingly well. For most other bands, this would be a strong album track. On an album such as A Certain Trigger, though, it is a slight dip in performance, but still an exceedingly enjoyable one.
If you're looking for the next big thing, then look no further. Other bands may have more style, have more pages in the NME each week or have celebrity girlfriends earning them thousands of column inches, but Maximo Park have the tunes, lyrics and personality to keep you listening until 2006. A must have for any indie fan's collection.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2006
This album first came to my notice in October 2005,when it had in fact been released earlier in May. I had seen Maximo Park on Jools Holland's "Later" and enjoyed their performance.They seemed to stand alone amongst other pop rock/art rock bands.I thought I would like to buy their debut CD"A Certain Trigger" and I finally did so in the early autumn,not knowing what to expect. I was even unsure whether I would like the tracks.
How wrong was I?? From the moment the CD hit my player I was instantly hooked by the opening drum and guitar bars of the first track "Signal and Sign."This anthem to changing life direction and getting motivated awoke my interest and lit the blue touchpaper for the rest of the album. Definite and direct,it sets the tone for the other twelve songs on the album.
From then on I never looked back. There isn't a dull,dud or depressing track on this album. It speeds along with the urgency of a train heading to its destination. It has a message for everyone.
Frontman Paul Smith has a distinctive rock voice. It is one that HAS to be listened to. At times it can just border on the light operatic,and there is plenty of melody there. Emotion runs high throughout his vocal delivery and as for his Geordie accent,it adds masses of charm and at times lends a dangerous edge to the words and music.
Tracks such as"Apply Some Pressure",which urge the listener to rethink,if things in life go wrong.The keyboards chorus is a very catchy one,with jangly piano chords,backing organ and a driving guitar and drum rhythm.
Other standout songs include "Graffiti",which concentrate on the recurring theme of provincial boredom and personal daring(intriguing stuff)-"Going Missing" which is a wonderful song.
Ringing guitarwork accompany the chorus in this one,and we feel the sadness and personal loss experienced by the singer.
One to bring tears to the eyes,but the upside is that the chorus is immensely singable.
Further notable tracks include "I Want You To Stay" which strikes a resounding chord. It's bittersweet,anguished and sad. But there's not a jot of depression in this track. In fact the lines of this song send shivers down the spine.
And then there's my personal favourite "Once,A Glimpse". Dramatic,desperate,highly-charged,intensely emotional,it contains the album's title line. Paul's vocals are as powerful as ever,not quite understanding why it has all gone wrong again emotionally. If high drama is your bag,this song will do it for you.
I could go on, but let's just say that,if you haven't already added ACT to your Millennium album collection, then it's not too late to do so. Its songs will steal their way into your heart and leave your ears wanting to hear more music from this remarkably talented band.
I recently learned that album sales for ACT went past Silver in 2005.
In my opinion,they are Pure Gold.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A rollercoaster ride from start to finish with barely time to catch your breath as A Certain Trigger piles it on with track after track of classic pop music. Reminiscent here and there of the big sound and lyrical flourishes of the Teardrop Explodes and others, but altogether more muscular and energetic. Pure exhilaration all the way, this is going to be a mighty hard act to follow. Surely the best of the lot in 2005 in a memorable year for guitar-based music.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 2009
I remember the day when I bought this album, is was a warm May day, I had a bad day at work, had an argument with the boyf, and wanted to listen to "Going Missing" on loop. I am so glad I was in that melancholy mood otherwise I would not have had the chance to find out what a hidden gem this band is! Each track holds it's own, from "I Want You To Stay" to my personal favourite "Once a Glimpse", and takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, which despite the high octane music, it's Paul Smith's emotive and articulate lyrics which really packs a punch!

I have had the very good fortune of seeing this band live in 2006 and again in 2008, and I can't wait for the release of Quicken the Heart!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2005
this album is amazing after a few listens it is definitley a grower, if you have only heard grafitti and love it some tracks are even better, except track 12 acrobat which is very different and personal don't really like it but again it is a grower. this is one of the best and most original albums i have heard in a long time i can't really find anything to comapare it to and that is a good thing with all the music that you can't tell the difference between around now. well worth the money.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2005
This should be to 2005 what Franz Ferdinand's debut was to last year. However, whereas the Franz actually broke into the mainstream, I fear that Maximo Park's album will be tragically overlooked by everyone and they won't get the praise they deserve. Which is a shame, because it's the best album of the year. Out of the 13 tracks there are probably about 7 or 8 standout tracks, in particular Graffiti, Apply Some Pressure, Limassol and Once A Glimpse. Come on people - get them noticed!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2006
I don't think I've ever felt as passionately about an album as I do with 'A Certain Trigger' for at least 5 years. I will be the first to admit that when I got it I semi-liked one song and my student loan was burning a hole in my pocket. When I actually sat and listened to it, thank goodness for long plane and bus journeys, I was amazed and still am by how fresh and vibrant and energetic and emotive it sounds. I half expected another Northern accented indie album a la Futureheads which would be no bad thing, indeed the two albums are similar in style, use of melody, even lyrics to some extent (although the four part harmonies sadly lack on ACT). But if like me, whilst lapping up short spiky punky pop, you have that longing feeling that a song might develop over 2 minutes or break into a rousing, uplifting, so energetic you have to bounce like a kangaroo on speed middle 8 then you will fall in love with ACT. For me the album has no bad points, my personal highlights are 'Going Missing' and 'I Want You To Stay' - I cannot in all truthfulness find a bad point about this album. 'Acrobat' is even sublime in its stark contrast to the rest of the album, stripped down with Paul Smith's distinctive accent and lyrics, I just wish they'd perform it live a bit more often. I don't even mind the keyboards/synthesizers on the album, they only add to the depth of sound and have some decent riffs too to complement the guitar and bass. If only more bands could put out debut albums as fresh and distinctive as this then we wouldn't need to rely on a stark few to push music forward. I only hope the next album's better than this one!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2007
teesside's brightest hope, Maximo Park, finally release their debut album `A Certain Trigger', following two smash hit singles and an insurmountable heap of press adoration. From the infectiously catchy `Apply Some Pressure' to the jerky passion of `Graffiti' and the anthemic and immense `Going Missing', `A Certain Trigger' is by turns romantic, edgy, powerful and energetic. Adding to the fray the sing-along bitter rant of `Limassol' and the poetic majesty of 'Acrobat' and this album is, in short, solid gold - packed full of classic indie-pop hits, with Paul Smith's unique voice and emotionally open lyrics at the heart of the album, with the band's often joyous pursuit of pop structures with an angular slant adding the right amount of sustainable interest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 February 2006
When I bought this album I wasn't completely sure if I'd like it or not, however it hasn't been out my C.D. player yet!!
It takes a few listens to really get into it, though it really is brilliant with catchy guitar rhythms and excellent, memorable lyrics. All of the tracks are strong especially "Apply Some Pressure" and "Going Missing" and the most original are the final two "Acrobat" and "Kiss You Better"- the perfect fun track to end it.
But my favourites are "The Coast Is Always Changing" and "Once, A Glimpse" There are no paticuarly weak tracks, although "Signal and Sign" isn't as good as the rest.
I'm sure that I agree with the comparison to The Futureheads, but if you like pure Indie-pop, you'll love A Certain Trigger.
Buy it now!
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on 19 October 2007
"Write a review. Well how objective can I be?" To be honest, anyone that can make a Newcastle accent sound as sexy as vocalist Paul Smith does is always at an unfair advantage over me.

I bought this album after Our Earthly Pleasures fairly blasted me into outer space. Once I finally managed to stop listening to Our Velocity on constant loop, I put A Certain Trigger on expecting to be disappointed in a their-first-album-wasn't-very-good-but-they-got-better-after-that style.
I was wrong.

A Certain Trigger does indeed have a raw, first-album quality to it, but in such a way as it evokes a real sense of this band's roots - you can imagine them having played this stuff in a live-music pub with a really bad sound set-up and still blowing everyone's minds with how good the music was. It's reminiscent of The Jam and I wouldn't have been surprised to hear a cover of Pretty Green thrown in the middle of this album - it wouldn't have seemed out of place - except that Maxïmo Park don't need to waste their time on covers (unless you're on about their recent `Radio1 Est. 1967' cover of Like I Love You - move over JT).

Smith's vocal style is what really makes this album special. He's got this way of engaging you with his fervent tone and compelling delivery. I could wax lyrical about every track, and I'd love to go into the text and subtext of the lyrics but I'll settle for a quick rundown of my personal highlights...

The retro keyboard sound along with the self-propelling percussion and captivating vocal talents of our Mr. Smith tender a promising opening to the album in Signal and Sign.

There's a sense of urgency in both the aural delivery and the lyrics of Apply Some Pressure, and a feeling of impending doom: "I hope that I am still alive next year..." A latent eroticism presents itself for a subtle peek around: "Behind your veil, I found the body underneath... I hope that I will live to see you undress... I testify to having guilty feelings." It's a heady mixture.

I Want You To Stay exposes an abstract directness in its imagery with lines like "please hold me now until my breath runs out," "a mesh of tones surrounds your eyes" and "where cranes collect the sky." And then there's the melody: sung in an unimpassioned tone like words calmly spoken, belying but running adjacent to a harmony that seems to represent a desperate internal monologue, with both culminating in a cry of "you know the way I feel."

Acrobat grabs your attention with a heart-beat rhythm and Smith speaking the verses in an almost-whisper until the chorus where, in a despairing outcry he declares, "I am not an acrobat, I cannot perform these tricks for you." There is an intense poetic moment, too, in the second verse where he points out the sky as a metaphor. For what, exactly, he never says, but the observation is honest and takes the focus off the intensity of the rest of the song, which is a nice touch - the diversion is a metaphor in itself.

I hoped Acrobat would be the last track on the album as I was unsure how any song could follow it, but I can understand why the band wouldn't want to end the CD on such a sombre note and the final track, Kiss You Better, takes you out with an upbeat promise that "if you should ever fall, I'll kiss you better." Makes you want to find a kerb to trip over.

If you like The Jam and enjoyed Our Earthly Pleasures, it's a fair bet that you'll love this. If you want music that gives you more than just the sound of something really cool coming out of your speakers, look no further. Put it on in the car, crank it up and try to keep up with the speed of Smith's lyrics. I was glad they were printed on the inside of the cover!

"I'll do graffiti if you'll sing to me in French." Well, mon petit chaton d'amour, it just so happens...
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