Everyone has those teen year defining albums. Those albums that sound tracked long summers, first kisses and probably first illegal pints. Among mine the debut record of MAXIMO PARK’s, A Certain Trigger. This is not a claim that the five piece are among my favourite, or that this record is among my most played nor have I particularly followed their career. Yet, this was an important record throughout my turbulent teen years. Resonating with my angst filled self, it was one of the first records I independently bought and one of the first shows I attended without adult supervision. Regrettably not until the release of Our Earthly Pleasures in 2007, when their hype had slightly subsided. Many of the lyrics ‘spoke’ to me in ways pop music before hadn’t, opening my eyes to an alternative reality, one I’d soon be living as I grew older and realized the dissatisfaction my early twenties would bring. It had a familiar narrative containing unfamiliar experiences in the lyrics and pop punk attitudes it contained.
Coming with an unstoppable wave of like-minded indie bands reviving where Jarvis Cocker’s northern Britpop left off. MAXIMO PARK nestled sweetly in this category gracing playlists alongside their peers, yet they were so much more. It set them apart from similar records released at the time. Among them, ARCTIC MONKEYS releasing Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not and the KAISER CHIEFS with Employment. An unstoppable musical rage with angry region-specific vocals, MAXIMO PARK were a familiar voice in a sea of guitars and drums. Paul Smith’s recognisable vocal is mirrored in equally recognized sharp guitar riffs.
‘I am young/and I am lost’ is as relatable now as it was when The Coast Is Always Changing was first released in late 2004. The first release from MAXIMO PARK’s debut album A Certain Trigger screams about meeting people drunk and drinking, something a 13 year old can only dream about. Authentically relatable yet so distant from my young teen experiences, a ying yang of teen angst music, infectious pop punk for the teen soul. It was an incredibly impressive debut and nestled wonderfully into a revival of Northern British rock in the mid 2000’s. What differentiated this record from that of their peers was the number of hits on it.
Apply Some Pressure is an angry guitar classic and is one often played at indie nights throughout Europe, still now, one decade later. It has a sexy swagger with an honest twist. ‘You magnify the way I feel about myself/Before you came I rarely thought about myself’. Lyrically this is a painstakingly beautiful snapshot of meeting someone who fleetingly changes your perception of yourself. It may seem clumsy teamed with a jaunty tune but it encapsulates youthful lust. Going Missing is a slower track that slightly changes the tempo of the record without destroying its velocity. A Certain Trigger is an incredible debut, each track is a separate tale in itself but together create a journey through youth. Receiving an impressive 8.4 out of 10 from Pitchfork, the Newcastle band started their musical career on top. The bands were one of the first to create their own brand of beer, an idea that has been adopted by many modern British bands such as EAGULLS and HOOKWORMS.
A decade on and MAXIMO PARK are reliving their past in a series of UK gigs presenting A Certain Trigger. It seems a cop out, to perform old albums rather than releasing new material. Perhaps they just feel their guitar rock cannot go any further or perhaps they think if they cannot break the mould it shouldn’t be overworked. For me, as a fan, I think it is good to re-tour albums, for those who missed it, were too young or just want to enjoy the live show once again. The critics for their latest, fifth, album Too Much Information in 2013 weren’t that bad and as the band told us back then they have at least one more album in them, so perhaps the bands is not as outdated as it may seem to many today. It’s always a tough thing when you creatively peak with your debut album many other artists collapsed under that pressure before.
Not being able to enjoy the album live should not stop you revisiting it. It is one of the most incredible debut records of the past decade and MAXIMO PARK have enjoyed an impressive career. So, we can but hope it is not over just yet. If you needed a trigger to re-listen to this explosive and incredible debut album, this is certainly it. The coast might have been changed plenty of times but this record remains timeless.