Sunday, May 13, 2007

Maximo Park

There are various ways of proving your critics wrong. One is, of course, the good old-fashioned 'test of time' method, where you sit back smugly and know that in ten or fifteen years you will be vindicated. One is to simply whine and argue until everyone gets so sick of you, they agree with you just to get rid of you. Or there is the third option, which is to simply go out and do what you do best, thus showing said critics up for the cretins you know them to be. Guess which option Maximo Park plump for tonight?

For the benefit of you who have been clinically dead for the last two months, no critic has liked Maximo Park's second album very much. They've not hated it, they've just not thought it was as good as they expected it to be. Which, in itself, is bad criticism. A good album or a good gig is not to be judged by reference to what the act themselves are capable of, but by reference to what the best albums and gigs will give you. It's that kind of namby-pamby thinking that has so royally fucked up out education system ("Oh, but he did his best" should get the response "Yes, but he's still thicker than Beth Ditto's sanitary towels" not a straight A).

From which standpoint, you will understand how good this gig was when I say that this wasn't just a case of MP rubbing their critics' noses in it, it was a case of them grabbing the critics by the ankles, turning them upside down and then burying them sole deep in horseshit.

Yes, they started with an old song - Graffiti - and ended with one - Limassol - but inbetween most of the new album got an airing. Anyone who saw the rapturous reception given to Our Velocity will not have doubted that the new material was as good as anything that has gone before. Books From Boxes and By The Monument bookended (no pun intended) The Coast Is Always Changing and were more than a match for it, whilst Russian Literature proved to be a classic-in-the-making.

In fact, the best way to judge this show is by reference to what it didn't have. I don't mean the lack of crowd favourites like Postcard Of A Painting. I mean the absence of one of the songs that the critics of Our Earthly Pleasures actually liked, Karaoke Plays. Could there be a clearer way of saying "Fuck you"?


It's four days later and I'm still trying to work out if there is a point to this band. My Bloody Valentine are rightly lauded as the doyennes for 90s noise rock. Band of Susans are criminally underrated exponents of the same genre. MBV featured one female. BoS were almost exclusively feminine - take out Page Hamilton and Robert Poss and you had a guitar toting toilet queue. In which case, how could four girls from Brighton copy what they did and yet manage to fuck it up? Answer: By being so criminally untalented, it's painful.

Untalented isn't necessarily a bad thing. Anyone who has seen Yes Boss or LostAlone will know that, sometimes, it can be hilarious. But Electrelane. They are so badly out of tune and so badly out of time that it actually hurts to listen to them. This was, basically, thirty minutes of chronically inept noisemaking.

The odd thing, though, is that there are some bands who sound good live and dreadful on record (The Young Knives, for example) and some bands who are pants but who sound great on disc (anyone heard of The Long Blondes?) and you just know that Electrelane fit into the latter group. Any half decent producer would make them sound good. So this is a warning, just in case you have one of their albums. Keep it that way, because seeing them live will only break your heart.