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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Max´mo Park
A Certain Trigger
Warp Records

Rating: 8/10 ?

June 1, 2005
Depending on your temperament, the legacy of the Clash can be infuriating. Their most conventionally famous song is constantly misinterpreted by the public-at-large; clueless suburbanites might unwittingly think they like the Clash because of their breakout pop songs, never knowing anything about their well-deserved badge of honor. While the annals of punk prove otherwise, their deceptively pleasant singles overshadow their legendary status to the 'unhip parents' of the world - damned if they can't write an insanely catchy tune.

Max´mo Park seem aligned with the Clash in that way, as their exterior is downright likeable but their sensibilities are far stronger than they let on. It's clear to the discerning ear they secretly listen to ill-fitting punks like Morrissey, the Cure, the Jam and the Clash. The band comes off as quietly rebellious because of what comes out of their mouths, but they keep a low profile because they don't exactly care if they socialize. And that's what makes them great. Their barbs are punctual, their hidden depth is like a delicious secret, and they find glory and attention despite themselves.

A Certain Trigger is a strong release from its opener on, though it has noticeable shifts in momentum, with a second, rousing tour de force in its closing tracks. Its first highlights at the album's top-end showcase their ability to slip into the contemporary radio popularity contest fairly effortlessly: "Signal and Sign" is a post-Devo New Wave tune with a surprisingly rough undercurrent, made fresh with commercial-ready chatter and snappy synth additions; "Apply Some Pressure" embodies the disaffected punk attitude quite handily as it slides into an oddly cool, rolling and catchy place.

From there, however, the album's second segment, from "Graffiti" to "I Want You to Stay", steals the scene more quietly. These tracks are the arty center of A Certain Trigger, doubtlessly its heart. They are brilliantly understated, lippy and dangerous with an undeniably feminine side. Definitely more introspective in tone, they do not sizzle as the previous singles do; their ability to seethe, articulate and be reluctantly swept up in romantics is perhaps more interesting than the snap and crackle of the openers.

This point is debated, then, by the aforementioned second wind of the album - its last third melds the effortlessness of the band's prominent singles with the intricacy and thoughtfulness of its cascading numbers. A Certain Trigger ends impressively, empowered by detail, intellect and skill. As it warms up, moving from the album's deliberate core by way of the loose, swaggering cowboy machismo of "Limassol", it passes to jangly territory, revealing Max´mo Park's rightful status as artful punks. "The Coast is Always Changing" and "The Night I Lost My Head" hint at Cureish doldrums toward broader appeal; the result rivals Interpol but is more concerned with bar fights than clothing racks. "Once, A Glimpse" is a fabulous Clash-style epic that proves the album's supremacy once and for all, splendidly hogging all attention; the spiny, Smithsy "Now I'm All Over the Shop" picks up momentum to allow the closer, "Kiss You Better," to revel in almost majestic snarkiness, bringing final punctuation and emphasis to the band's sarcastic eloquence.

As it ebbs and flows, A Certain Trigger's differences make it special, though its only lapse - the buzzing, exotic drone of "Acrobat" - is perhaps too different to be digested. It is preferable to think of this cut as a sidestep rather than a misstep considering Max´mo Park's strength in versatility, but it does feel out of place in this varied but consistent work. The track may provide an interesting clue to where the band is next headed and just how wide-ranging its influences truly are, but after the pulse-jumping, thoughtful electricity of this debut, it's hard to wish for anything but a continuation. For now, Max´mo Park symbolize every sharp-tongued music aficionado, cynical introvert and shy, insightful poet we've all befriended or become in our lives; they are beloved underdogs we can all rally behind.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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