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November 01, 2007

Maximo Park: Wolverhampton Civic Hall

Maxïmo Park
Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
10th Ocotober 2007 

Alexandra Szydlowska

    You’ve got to feel sorry for the opening act sometimes. Easy enough on the eyes, they provoke a smatter of approval from the predominantly male audience as they walk on stage, all husky voices, sequins and blunt haircuts. But as soon as technical difficulties are overcome, anecdotes fall flat and they are free to strum their way into their first number, it becomes clear that Theoretical Girl and the Equations don’t stand a chance of raising any pulses tonight. The formula that the Equations have to offer, that is, three power-chord progressions, a repetitive song cycle and a stiff and manufactured stage presence, despite a hopeful burst of technical competence during the drum solo at the end of the set, just doesn’t add up. You do the math, Theoretical girl.

    The next supporting band won’t be so quick to sink into obscurity, if only for the fact that Good Shoes manages to stir a dangerously inert crowd up with an infectiously energetic brand of indie pop that, though as repetitious as it may be, is quintessentially British. Hailing from Morden in London, they set the tradition straight for arty-looking suburban kids whose music features plenty of catchy guitar hooks and a hip-swinging rhythms fit to strut to in your checked slip-on shoes.

    The lead singer of Maxïmo Park tonight, it’s got to be said, is an absolute hero. Paul Smith steals the show with an endearingly cheerful manner, managing to look lean and well put together in a crimson shirt and tux, despite having just thrown up from food poisoning before sticking a trilby on his head and coming out on stage. Almost immediately the crowd begins to stir and bubble as the band rips into the high-voltage favourite, ‘Our Velocity’ off new album ‘Our Earthly Pleasures’. It’s refreshing to witness a band that predominantly sings about failing relationships and yet manages to get away with being lyrical and nostalgic without being classed as trite. The key to their music is to steer clear of emotional vacuity and pretentiousness, delivering lyrics that brim with wit, wisdom and original narrative perspective. It helps that, unlike the previous two acts, it is almost impossible to trace evident influences in their music. Coming from a Maxïmo Park gig you leave with the satisfied feeling of having witnessed the coming-of-age of a great band that has heart and feeling and promises to grow with you.


October 10, 2007

Turin Brakes – Dark On Fire

Title:
Rating:
2 out of 5 stars

Carys Esseen

This album showcases an attempt at instrumental and stylistic experiment with an aim, so the press release says, to uncover the true purpose of making music. Well, the wanky preface to the record was helpful in so far as I knew straight away to expect pretentious lyrics and over-production – unfortunately that is exactly what I got. The title track “Dark On Fire” is haunting and floaty but lacks the lyrical and emotional substance to evoke even the same dramatic ethos as the album art. The instrumentation is disappointing and relies too heavily on glib, 90’s style guitar and drum patterns that are unexciting to say the least. There are, however, a couple of instances where they get it right. Track eight, “For The Fire”, will stay with you thanks to edgy rhythms and a stellar chorus and, in another vein, the sweeter sound of “Here Comes The Moon” provides a reminder of the beauty of Knights’ voice with a unique instance of perfect levels of instrumentation and chiming percussion. This album really cements Turin Brakes as the ‘lost boys’ of pop and, for the sake of their talent, I hope they find a credible sound. Soon.


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