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Music Review

Max´mo Park lost in shadows

Maxïmo Park is inspired by the punk-fueled UK pop of the late '70s. Maxïmo Park is inspired by the punk-fueled UK pop of the late '70s.

For anyone with more than a passing familiarity with the Kaiser Chiefs , Wednesday's Maxïmo Park show at the Paradise could have prompted a double take. Both bands' sounds have roots in the punk-fueled UK pop explosion of the late 1970s, especially the post-mod drive of the Jam. Maxïmo Park singer Paul Smith even shares the same cheery tenor and distinctly British accent (and blandness of name) as Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson.

So it's unfortunate that Maxïmo Park continues to chase the group from which it's all but indistinguishable with a seemingly perpetual two - month lag, from album releases to concert appearances. Maxïmo Park might not be the lesser band, but going second yet again, after the Chiefs' April appearance at Avalon, did them no favors.

Perhaps to counter that, Smith, in a bowler hat, strained to be a dynamic frontman, but he was maybe trying a little too hard. Despite his playing the wounded romantic (as opposed to Wilson's jovial thug), his intensity was often over the top, especially during post-song attempts to glare menacingly. He jumped, he screamed, and he yanked back the mike stand in time with a big drum hit, in case the audience might have missed it.

Smith's moves seemed justified for only a few songs, such as the chant-along "Going Missing" and "Graffiti," during which the band exploded every few bars. The rest was divided between angular riffing ("Girls Who Play Guitars" differed from "I Want You to Stay" mainly through its stuttering hook consisting of two sharp strums instead of four) and the airy momentum of songs like "Parisian Skies" and "Your Urge."

It was all perfectly serviceable, but it suffered from a lack of genuine excitement. Drummer Tom English looked consistently lost in concentration, while bassist Archis Tiku briefly came out of the shadows only twice.

With better material and a stronger sense of self, Maxïmo Park might one day step out of the shadows, too.

Openers the Oohlas played a lightly distorted brand of nondescript college rock led by off-puttingly cocky frontwoman Olivia Stone. Better was Monsters Are Waiting, whose slashing, reverbed guitar and pulsing bass drone drew from the dawn of the postpunk era.


Max´mo Park

With Monsters Are Waiting and the Oohlas

At: the Paradise, Wednesday night