There is always a certain interest that surrounds a solo release from a member of band that is still very much alive and kicking. Sparking an immediate sense of artistry and creativity, the idea of a “side project” usually promises a different insight into an artist out of their usual context. And this is exactly what Maxïmo Park’s Paul Smith offers with his new album Contradictions. Under the guise of Paul Smith and the Imitations, Smith was joined by an array of talented musicians to record the release, which has been four years in the making.
Working alongside his ongoing commitments to Maxïmo Park, the hours spent recording Contradictions were fairly sparse throughout that time; but it seems that the space given to the making of this record was well worth it. Contradictions really does feel like the personal musings of Smith, also a reconciling of varying influences and sounds. True to it’s name, Contradictions drifts between dreamy indie pop, folk inspired acoustic numbers and upbeat alt rock. Spreading his wings and flying solo, as a listener the album invites you to bask in Smith’s changing paces.
One common theme that runs Contradictions throughout is a strong british identity, not unexpected from a heavyweight brit scene artist like Smith. Channelling everything from brit pop in vocal stylings on heavier tracks, like People On Sunday, right through to a new wave feel on Coney Island (4th Of July) that is reminiscent of Bowie during his Berlin period. Golden Glint brings out a gentler vocal, sparkling like sunlight on water with dreamy guitar licks and folk inspired intro. One of the real stand out tracks on the album is Reintroducing The Red Kite. A beautiful melding of what feels like Smith’s foundation style with fresh new influences; Northern England indie riffs overlaid with a 60’s feel in mod style vocals and melodic guitars.
As an album, Contradictions is well titled. But though full of stylistic variations and changes of pace, it still feels cohesive and coherent. Rather than jostling uncomfortably, the songs fall smoothly into place and the whole release is threaded through with a sunny optimism. It seems that Contradictions was well worth the wait.