Sunday, January 16, 2011


On Further Review:
Albums of Note
by Nick Parker

solo album from Maximo Park's Paul Smith:

One of the amazing things for me about listening to new music is that feeling of slight bewilderment as you try to grasp how a song was conceived, developed and recorded. That confusion gives me a child-like feeling of wonder that there are people out there that can create something that is quite beyond me.

Maximo Park lead singer Paul Smith’s new solo album lays its meaning and its process bare. Most of the songs on Margins are simple, strummed on a clean electric guitar, without a pick, and without complex arrangement behind them. Rather than watching some magical and polished performance then, listening to Margins is like sitting with a friend who says, “I’ve been working on this song – want to hear it?”

Even where there are drums and bass, the songs are played as though by a band trying to find their feet as they go This all probably sounds very amateurish then, and hardly worth your time. Forget the professionalism for a moment though. What if you could be there at the inception of something new, there when those first delicate moves to write a melody, and those first unsophisticated words begin to be articulated? Wouldn’t that be worth trading for the refined, poised performance of a more ‘established’ act?

Margins manages to be quite a moving album, precisely because of this simple, unpolished exterior. Tracks like “While you’re in the bath” are so small in scale that you can’t pull away from them. Even the ‘bigger’ songs, like single “Our Lady of Lourdes,” give this same sense of small stories told delicately.

Smith’s decision to save these tracks for a solo project, instead of trying to build them into another refined Maximo Park album, is very wise. Margins really is quite a different proposition: an album of less of hard-hit ballads, than of slight songs too intimate for the Maximo Park treatment.

Paul Smith
Web / My / Fb / Tw
Maximo Park

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