Every single article that refers to Brighton’s Conor Maynard speaks of his frustration with the comparison to the Canadian ‘heart-throb’ Justin Bieber. I for one feel his frustration. Yes, there are some similarities, especially with their targeted demographic being almost identical, but I can safely say that I very much like Conor Maynard and I very much dislike Justin Bieber. It may be personal preference but if they were that similar surely I’d appreciate both artists? I would start by altering your mindset and making a more deserved comparison to the legendary Justin Timberlake. Every time Maynard breaks into falsetto it’s extremely hard to get JT out of your head, his vocal ability is definitely up their with the greats. The preface of the album already shows how much potential Conor Maynard has. For a debut to feature the likes of Rita Ora, Pharrell Williams and Ne-Yo, all of which are incredibly successful musicians, is simply amazing. With Frank Ocean helping on the song-writing front, Maynard is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Contrast opens with the absolute belter of a track called ‘Animal’, the synthy dance beat throughout means it wouldn’t sound out of place in clubs across the world. The raunchy lyrics might make some parents of his obsessive followers – The ‘Mayniacs’ – squirm with awkwardness as their pre-pubescent daughters sing ‘tear me apart like an animal’ at the top of their lungs. However, I like the danger of writing such lyrics, take ‘Another One’ for example: he even goes as far as having a girl ‘peel his banana-na-na’, despite the cringing it shows a certain maturity in the 19 year old, demonstrating that he is not another artist aimed at tweens alone (look at One Direction for example, milder lyrics for a younger audience). Speaking of fans, Lily Allen herself is a self-proclaimed Mayniac after being spotted at one of his gigs earlier this year. You would think that the tracks that have already been released and gained great chart positions (both reaching the top 4) that they would be the best on the album. However, just after the first listen I for one felt that almost every track had the star quality required for a hit single.
His track with Ne-Yo titled ‘Turn Around’ is brilliant, with a beat that would normally be found on a David Guetta track; a formula as you all know is extremely successful. Maynard and Ne-Yo compliment each other brilliantly in this single, it was certainly a great move by Maynard. Next on the record is the extremely successful second single ‘Vegas Girl’, which is a great track (despite the cringey music video). Speaking of featuring artists, a personal favourite of mine on the album is ‘Better Than You’ with Rita Ora. It’s an immediate dance-floor filler with an automatic impact. A track you’ll want to listen to more than once. Both Rita and Conor are yet to explode into super-stardom but they are definitely on the cusp of becoming the next big things, so this track really does stand out. ‘Lift Off’ was co-wrote with N.E.R.D’s Pharrell Williams and oozes soul. The synthetic beats really remind me of the Future Sex/Love Sounds era in JT’s career
I would like to take a moment to especially mention the emotion fuelled, slower tracks on the album. The likes of ‘Just In Case’ and ‘Mary Go Round’ are especially personal (Maynard admitted they were based on personal experience earlier this week on Twitter) and show a side to Maynard which screams ‘please take me seriously!’. The track ‘Pictures’ (penned by Frank Ocean and produced by Midi Mafia) wouldn’t look out of place on Channel Orange. You can automatically sense the Ocean influence and this makes the track extremely special. ‘Glass Girl’ is another track which screams emotion as well as including some highly relevant dubstep beats. With a spoken section towards the end Conor tells his listeners how “break ups are always hard, especially when you’re young”, on paper it would be appear very cringey, but believe it or not, it works!
The album exceeded all of my expectations! Each track seems to impress me as much as the next, all of which could quite easily make hit singles. Somewhat all killer, no filler. If I’m honest the only track that doesn’t completely impress is ‘Headphones’ and this is purely due to the simplified lyrics, on a musical front, I’m afraid to say it is very catchy. One thing (amongst many) that I like about Conor Maynard is how he is not another artist that fits into the mould, his inventive, daring debut proves that he has credibility as a competent male solo artist. After this stunning debut album, I now declare myself a Mayniac and proud of it.