A fake band always believes in its own real-ness: always smiling back when they catch themselves in the mirror—hey hey, still got it! If they understand where they really are, or if they've opted out of the life-and-death struggle that music can really be—("Pop Goes the Artist," by me, Aug. 12)—because they just want to cash the paycheck they're given, that's okay, in a way. If they understand that to suck is to succeed—if they know it won't last—if they don't believe the blowjobs they're getting—then that's okay too. People get lucky, but you can like them if they don't get cocky. Maximo are a band that totals perfectly at zero, that will probably disappear after one more album, but that's just efficient. No obnoxious trash-bag swagger like the Kaiser Chiefs, none of the first-over-the-finish-line cachet of der Franz, none of the first-time-drunk cockiness of the Cribs: Maximo are just five more faces in the wave, commendable players with technical songs and HONORABLE MENTION pinned on their snappy sport coats. There's not enough personality here—every lyric is basically Jarvis Cocker missing a girl—to register any sense of insincerity, and there's enough technique to make it work anyway; they do not create so much as deliver. They could probably play anything anyone told them to, but this is what happens to get the cashier's checks these days.
They are too inanimate to hate: they are just humans with instruments and clothes and there will always be another, and so they're also too inanimate to love. If a band doesn't have any unique humanity to them, they can still be okay—music is as technical as carpentry, and good playing and songwriting is worth appreciating as craft no matter what, even if the emptiness around it makes it echo out and out. Not everything in life has to be life-changing, and not everyone has to try, and Maximo don't really try; they saw a certain silhouette cut out in some label's bankbook, and they shifted themselves to fit it. That's not fake, that's just . . . getting by? As a hillbilly who cares about (to the extent that he is able to use his hillbilly instincts to assess it) realness, there is nothing in Maximo Park either direction to register: not real enough to be a real band, not fake enough to be a fake band. The fake bands are the ones who think they deserve everything they've got; bands like Maximo Park know they deserve everything they've got. Ten songs that sound just the same: if that's all they want, that's all they'll get. It's a living, not a life.
MAXIMO PARK PLAY WITH PEOPLE IN PLANES AND THE BRAVERY AT THE GALAXY CONCERT THEATRE, 3503 S. HARBOR BLVD., SANTA ANA, (714) 957-0600. FRI., 8 p.m. $14. ALL AGES.