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”. But without the tension created by the jerky guitar riffs of Smith’s day job, too much of the material here, particularly towards the album’s end, drifts by forgettably.
Phil Mongredien works on the Guardian's opinion desk. He also reviews albums for Q magazine