Maximo Park
w/the Blood Arm, Troubled Hubble
Sun July 3, Crocodile, 8 pm, $10 adv/$12 DOS, 18+.

British boys Maximo Park play dance rock à la mode. They write songs about girls. They went to art school. And yet, every once in a while, they'll do something so strange that you have to reconsider their familiarity all over again.

The band's debut, A Certain Trigger, could be viewed as a disguised riposte to the Franz Ferd-alikes invading America's pop charts and finer dance clubs. Some elements of their sound are of the moment—Archis Tiku's bass surges and Tom English's pulsing drums have a very familiar feel. But what about those Doors-y keyboard lines, courtesy of Lukas Wooller? Or the R.E.M. jangle of Duncan Lloyd's guitar? Or the album's showstopper, the eerie, Pulp-y spoken word epic "Acrobat"?

These iconoclastic moments might come from Maximo Park's Newcastle upbringing. The big city is a British Omaha, and singer Paul Smith sounds like the chair of the tourism board when describing its industrial heritage and progressive outlook. The band's bio claims the city "birthed" A Certain Trigger, and it shows in such old-fashioned touches as boy-meets-girl lyrics and pastoral guitar solos. Those elements form a surprising chemical bond with the group's avant-garde leanings, especially when you factor in that Smith can converse about everything from fantasy worlds to exoticism and the 1968 Paris riots.

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The album has its flaws—songs fizzle out before they peak and the record is overlong—but there's still enough promise to possibly make good on Smith's claim that, "We're in it for the long term. When the dust settles, we'll still be around." ■

editor@thestranger.com