I’ve been eagerly anticipating this album for about a year and a half. It’s finally hear and i’m so happy i can give my thoughts on it. I’ve grown sick and tired of comparisons between Conor and Bieber, I always maintained he was more of a heir to Justin Timberlake.
This album definitely dispels any comparisons to JB, but does back up my thoughts that he’s more of a JT yet is still a new artist in his own right.
First up on the album is Animal. A punchy, pop song full of bite, cleverly written and produced by The Invisible Men who also did Jessie J’s Do It Like A Dude with Sophie Stern and Conor himself getting in on the songwriting. This has got to be a single.
Next track is the first song that off here that I can’t stop listening to. Turn Around features Ne-Yo and is produced by Stargate, who produces largely for Rihanna as they’re both part of Jay Z’s Roc Nation, and Benny Blanco who’s had a hand in making many of Katy Perry’s. This song fits the whole club dance vibe that’s been so prevalent within the industry for the past 2-3 years, but there’s seems to be a bit of a difference with this one. More dynamic, more catchy, production’s cleverly tweaked in my opinion to make it not sound so generic and both vocalists are amazing, especially Ne-Yo’s after the bridge which are spot on. Written by both producers and Ne-Yo, you know this is a tune before you’ve even heard it. This again, has got to be a definite single.
Next up are the first 2 singles that’ve been released, Can’t Say No and Vegas Girl, both cracking songs and again fantastically produced and written. Lift Off featuring Pharrell is the first song that’s so reminiscent of Justin Timberlake, and it’s so refreshing to hear some proper R&B after most of the R&B acts we adored 5 years ago all pretty much jumped on the Guetta Wagon.
The next track is Mary Go Round and it’s another strong track but i think it lacks a cutting edge like the others to be a single, a good pop song nonetheless and definitely good enough for a debut album. However Take Off, and Better Than You feat. Rita Ora are the weak links of the album and to me, both feel like album fillers. Amazing potential there with Maynard and Ora on the same track but there’s not much to it. It’s not catchy or melodic and both songs are unticked on my playlist so i don’t have to bother skipping them.
The album finishes strongly though. Another One is a Bajan-pop influenced production by Quiz and Larossi, not surprisingly they produced Twilight by Cover Drive. Parts of the song remind me of Take Care by Drake and Rihanna, maybe it was intentional as Drake is Conor’s biggest influence. How he’d love to work with him! Pictures is another slow, R&B tune with Conor’s vocals in the verses again reminiscent of JT and a hint of MJ. The chorus is incredibly catchy too. Oh and the song is co-written by THE Frank Ocean. The second collab with Pharrell comes in the shape of Glass Girl. A very moody song that builds up for a minute to dubstep-inspired-but-not-quite-dubstep breakdown with an electric guitar twanging in the background. Another strong contender for a single. Lastly we have Just In Case, an R&B production brought into 2012, very subtle and again quite dark, but makes for easy listening. It’s one of them songs you might want to listen to when you’re depressed about your love life and the rain’s pattering on the window.
So there you have it. There’s my review of Contrast by Conor Maynard. Hopefully someone will read this amongst the thousands of other reviews for it online. Overall this is a very, very strong debut album and I don’t think there’s anything out there at the moment that’s similar, or even similar to Conor Maynard. Parlophone could quite easily get 5 strong singles out of this and you can’t say that about too many albums these days. It’s one of them albums where you’ll be hooked on one song for weeks until you tire of it and and move onto the next, until you’ve gone full whack and you’ll go back to raping the first one again by which time you’ll be hearing whisperings of the next album. Apart from Conor Maynard, whose vocals are addictive and amazing throughout, the other stars of this album are The Invisible Men and Sophie Stern, who do a great job on the production and songwriting on most of the album. Well done Parlophone, EMI, Turn First Artists, Invisible Men, Sophie Stern and Conor Maynard.