Paul Smith – Diagrams

Despite being occasionally repetitive, on Diagrams the Maxïmo Park frontman cements his place as a solo artist and a brilliant songwriter

Album Review by Eala Macalister | 25 Oct 2018
  • Paul Smith – Diagrams
Album title: Diagrams
Artist: Paul Smith
Label: Billingham Records
Release date: 26 Oct

One thing about Paul Smith is that he’s never happy to rest on his laurels and is always keen to push things forward. It’s no different on this fourth solo offering from the Maxïmo Park frontman. As an album it’s less introverted than some of his previous work. Diagrams, instead, edges more towards characters and storytelling, with Smith claiming he wanted each song to be like a short story.

Smith says this album was mainly conjured up in a bedroom, and this back-to-basics approach shines through the album. Smith has become more political with his lyrics of late, and there is that aspect on here too. The Public Eye opens the album with heavy guitars and harmonies. It’s a tirade against the hostile environment that, despite being written four years ago, is as relevant today as ever. Latest single Around and Around takes aim at political spin through a veneer of stripped back guitars and handclaps. 

Syrian Plains will get heads banging, while John is more likely to lead the dancing – and is the most joyful track on this generally bleak, occasionally repetitive album. It's a harder edge than might be expected from the Maxïmo Park singer but he's never been one to do exactly what’s expected of him. Behind grungy, lo-fi guitars, which he admits he never really had a chance to do with his band, are songs of real meaning. Smith has cemented his place as a solo artist and a brilliant songwriter.

Listen to: Around and Around, The Public Eye, John