Gathering all of the B-sides from the band's U.K. singles as well as some of their demos, Missing Songs presents more of Maxïmo Park's sharp, witty guitar pop. For better or worse, the compilation shows that the band knew exactly what songs to put on A Certain Trigger -- few of the songs here scale the heights of their debut album. But even if Missing Songs is slighter and less focused than Maxïmo Park's A-game material, it's still pretty engaging. "A19" and "I Want You to Leave" are two of the band's quintessentially energetic, twisty rockers; "Fear of Falling," with its great backing harmonies and start-stop rhythms, shows that the band can even make a go-nowhere love affair sound exciting. "Hammer Horror," meanwhile, speeds along on a spy-theme-influenced bassline and twinkly keyboards. Maxïmo Park stretches out a bit on "A Year of Doubt," a sweet, bouncy vignette that flirts with indie pop, and on the lovely "Stray Talk," an acoustic ballad that shifts gears almost as many times as their plugged-in songs do. These are hardly experimental songs, but it is nice to hear the band try other approaches besides its more usual sound, as appealing as it is. There are a few stumbles on Missing Songs: "Trial and Error" lives up to its name by starting with a good idea and taking it nowhere, while the minute-long cover of John Lennon's "Isolation" is creative but not entirely successful. A trio of demos -- including a tiny, tinny "Apply Some Pressure" -- rounds out the collection, and though they're nothing new, the versions of "Graffiti" and "Once, a Glimpse" capture a little more of the bristling energy of Maxïmo Park's live shows than A Certain Trigger did. While Missing Songs doesn't have the power of that album, it is a lot more focused than some bands' odds'n'sods collections, and works well as a between-albums release for completists.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares