'Contradictions' is the 3rd solo effort from Maximo Park frontman Paul Smith. On this occasion he has the hired help of Peter Brewis (Field Music), Wendy Smith (Prefab Spirit), Rachel Lancaster (Silver Fox) and Andrew Hodson (Warm Digits).
Smith described the record as 'an alternative pop record' to the NME last year and for the most part, this is true. What it demonstrates more is, Smith's prowess as a lyricist as he reflects on love and life.
Maximo Park fans tentative of Smith's solo work should dive in with the second track 'The Deep End'. It's a perfect bridge between what the two try to achieve. It has the classic indie guitar sounds of New Order and The Cure combined with the nostalgic melancholy often featured here. The production has the blissfulness of Bloc Party's 'So Here We Are' which is a great juxtaposition to Smith's confession that 'all my dreams are contradictions'.
Former single 'Break Me Down' continues in this vain. It is the perfect vessel for Smith to wrap his distinctive North East vocals around. The fragility Smith reveals here is where the real beauty lies though. The line 'break me down / It wont be hard' acts as the nail in the coffin for the relationship Smith is reminiscing upon as a lost opportunity. We are all for the Liam Gallagher standing fearless on stage but, the sense of 'what might have been', especially with a loved one is something more of us can emphasise with.
Perhaps the finest lyrics of Smith's career to date appear on 'All The Things You'd Like To Be'. The use of poetry paints brilliant grey landscapes of Smith's North East roots. The chorus of 'the office blocks of asbestos rocks / the corporation that fed the family' depicts the world which most us fall into to survive superbly. Not content with a great chorus, Smith's verses are littered with industrial reference points where he and a lover discuss what their ambitions were. This is without doubt a triumph of working class song writing and one that should be lauded from the rooftops.
Sadly this album only stacks up for the first 9 songs. The final four tracks fall a bit flat and ironically, you are left with a feeling of what might have been. The pop sounds dissipate and whilst the lyrics have their moments, they lose their impact without the power of the music to back them up.
Nevertheless, put the blinkers on and stop the album after 'People On Sunday' and you are left with a solid to good indie album with with some great lyrics.