After an April UK gig, Maximo Park singer Paul Smith lost a white linen satchel that contained his wallet, his keys, some Polaroids, books by Kafka and Camus, and a red notebook with song lyrics and poetry. Listening to A Certain Trigger
is like getting smacked in the face with that bag. You hear the flat tinkle of loose change in the dollars-and-cents production, staccato attacks and trebly buzz that sound cheaper than the details deeper in the mix. You smell the chemicals on the snapshots, hurried scenes of the moment before the collapse. You're whompjawed by the paperback disaffection. You feel the cool linen unexpectedly chafe. And you see a flash of red when the notebook peeks out and a few loose pages, dotted with simple phrases in a wounded script, papercut your nose. But pain comes only at the realization that Smith's tremulous snarl and the band's urgent hooks must compete with a half-dozen other acts whose style -- like their members -- were born during the Thatcher years. Maximo Park might just be the best of the bunch, a group that hits like a cotton sack full of stuff worth stealing.