Release Date: Aug 21, 2015
Record label: Bellingham Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
Paul Smith had a busy 2014. Not only did his band Maxïmo Park release their fifth studio album, he was also engrossed in a number of side projects including a collaboration with Field Music’s Peter Brewis, the duo concocting a mixture of avant-garde and contemporary pop arrangements that went under the banner of Frozen By Sight. It’s now late Summer 2015 and the hard-grafting Middlesbrough man has popped up again with his second solo LP, Contradictions, and it’s clear that he hasn’t lost any of his Northern charm that made him such an iconic songwriter back in the early Maxïmo days.
Paul Smith will be most recognisable to casual observers of UK indie-rock as the sharp-suited, scissor-kicking whirlwind of a frontman for Maximo Park. Beneath that furiously energetic stage persona, though, there’s also this bookish, introspective side to him, which has always informed the band’s songs. Smith has spent several patches of downtime from the band in slowly constructing an alternate discography to his work with his band, firstly with his solo album Margins five years ago, and then with Frozen By Sight, an unassumingly spectacular collaboration with Field Music’s Peter Brewis last year.
No need to panic – Paul Smith, the behatted, twirling dervish of a frontman, has not left Maxïmo Park. In fact, the Geordie indie-poppers are very much alive and well, and will be embarking on a UK tour this winter to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the release of their debut album A Certain Trigger. So, if you wish to pogo up and down, singing along to Going Missing or Apply Some Pressure while secretly weeping for a lost youth and your own creeping mortality, knock yourself out.
Newcastle’s Maximo Park stood out among the glut of British guitar bands that came to prominence a decade ago thanks to lyrics that suggested frontman Paul Smith had spent his youth reading books, as opposed to engaging in petty crime like some of his peers. That literary sense extends to his second solo album, with vivid imagery illuminating these 13 songs. Musically, there’s a loose, relaxed feel, the likes of All the Things You’d Like to Be sounding oddly summery, even as Smith sings of “office blocks of asbestos rocks”.