|NME Awards Tour,|
We Are Scientists/
[The Mail On Sunday, 2006]
BRITS WEEK It may have been, but the biggest draw was elsewhere. Arctic Monkeys' impact on the NME's annual new bands showcase can be likened to that of an elephant in a skiff. Wholly unexpected and rather overwhelming, it has left the other occupants struggling for space. Not that all of them warrant any.
With a line-up including a father and son, Twickenham's Mystery Jets (*) have been dismissed in some quarters as gimmicky. This is unfair. They deserve to be dismissed as gimmicky entirely on the basis of their music. It embellishes the standard-issue Kaiser Ferdinand blueprint with once-again modish slice-of-life Englishness, and more notably, an odd, proggish fussiness, full of superfluous, knowing flourishes. Every ten seconds, five things happen that you wish wouldn't. Half Yes Half Biscuit, and all a bit annoying.
At least Mystery Jets are a touch peculiar. We Are Scientists (no stars) seem to have rolled off the same New York production line that foisted The Bravery upon the world; one more band who sound like another, earlier band in decline. Had U2 spent the last 25 years repeating October, before belatedly discovering disco... it would probably still be preferable to this. They don't half stretch it out, too, pounding and whining you into numbed submission. Thank God they're not scientists.
“How's the bird flu cure coming along, chaps?”
“Well, we've taken somebody else's old research, copied it out ten times, longhand, and stuck it in a binder.”
Maxïmo Park (***) are unlucky to have their top billing overshadowed by the sudden success of their less evolved tour-mates. The Newcastle quintet may be just as derivative as their contemporaries. But they boast striking and little-plundered influences (Magazine and, surprisingly, The Skids). And the exuberant commitment in their performance compensates for the sonic muddying of some fine songs, better served on their debut album, A Certain Trigger.
In a less homogenous indie scene, Maxïmo Park would be an intriguing curio. That they rank among the best of the current crop says as much about that crop as it does about them. Encouraging as it is that so many people now care about new rock bands, it's a pity there aren't more (and more diverse) new rock bands worth their caring about.
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