It's the stuff of dystopian science-fiction: A mass of svelte, skinny-tied young lads from England's north-easternmost corner appear, Village of the Damned-like in their uniformly robotic new-wave movements. And before we can understand a word of their Geordie accents, it's total domination.
This innate distrust of instant pop-music trends helps make us American. So when The Futureheads, Field Music and Maxïmo Park all apparate over the course of six months in Blighty's heretofore pop-unfriendly north-east, all cranking out three-minute salvos of XTCisms, you've gotta wonder. But, like its Futureheads cousins, that Orwellian jitter is part of Maxïmo Park's beauty. On "Apply Some Pressure," a nervy look at men's-mag style assertiveness, and the trebly Orange Juice-esque "I am young and I am lost" anthem, "The Coast Is Always Changing," Maxïmo proves contagious in its discomfort -- as if jittery capitalist doublespeak and social awkwardness were hip with the kids. As singer Paul Smith (fashion-conscious in name and deed) says in "Graffiti," "I'll do graffiti / if you'll sing to me in French / what are we doing here / if romance isn't dead?"
It's hard not to feel like you've heard it all before. Like, a minute ago. As probably the last band to break big on the post-Franz market before the backlash goes mainstream, Maxïmo Park is the first to sound as much like its contemporaries as its sleeve-worn forebears. That doesn't make them bad -- far from it, Maxïmo Park's Trigger rock is as itchy and topical and eminently danceable as any of its neighbors. (With so much precedent laid down, these end-of-the-trend artists are often the best.) But it's also the hardest to defend: Sure, these guys have the suicidal tendencies and the quadrophenic self-doubt, but is it theirs? Or just the movement? By the time you've figured it out, it'll be too late.