Paul Smith & The Imitations – Contradictions Review

Teesside’s Paul Smith has used the time taken out of his role as lead singer of Maximo Park to form a little group of his own and release a second album away from that more well known role. Contradictions has been released on Billingham Records, the town he’s from no less and the general content and feel of the album is very much a reflection of the North East or Northumbria and his obvious affinity with it. Smith’s solo venture back in 2010 was much more introspective than anything Maximo Park had done at that time and this greater personal content is something we can expect here too, but is this sacrificing some key aspects to the sound?

‘Break Me Down’ is a pop inspired, rhythmic and catchy affair with a slight leaning towards the older material of Maximo Park, but it certainly remains it’s own thing with a more warped and loose guitar part and a generally more spaced out and breezy sound. This sound is accentuated by the Pop backing vocals and anchored by Smith’s earthy accented vocal. ‘All The Things You’d Like To Be’ features the echoed and meandering riff to open the track, something more at home on a Shoegaze track. This addition is more stripped back however without sacrificing the sonic quality and from here the track takes on a nice rhythmic jolt and maintains an urgency throughout. The lyrical content as always with Smith is very visual and descriptive as he describes the derelict office blocks of his home town for example.

‘Reintroducing The Red Kite’ is a track driven by a more prominent bass line and a deeper riff from which the vocals can break away in a light and airy fashion. The snappy percussion in the background only makes the verses more appealing in it’s catchiness, but the chorus does seem a little like a forced attempt to fit the song’s title into the track. The track as a musical affair works the juxtaposition between verse and chorus well however. ‘Coney Island (4th of July)’ is a track replicative of an 80’s pop track with breezy overtones as the warping bass line runs alongside the light whirring backing vocals. A steady Track. More folk-inspired tones are found on tracks like ‘The Gold Glint’ with the closely recorded acoustics feeding in to a slow paced, jangling ensemble that is ‘Fill in the Blanks’ as the track builds up it’s sonic quality with the addition of a wiry lead guitar behind the steady instrumentation. Other tracks such as ‘The Deep End’ continue that atmospheric quality to the album tracks with the close recording of vocals set against a more purposeful, rhythmic sound and this makes the lyrics stand out too. The lyrics are certainly one of the album’s strong points and even though the album isn’t bursting full of invention, it gathers together a good mix of sounds that make the album a dynamic one within the context of Paul Smith’s introspective messages.

Paul Smith & The Imitations – Contradictions = 7.5/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

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