Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs, Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, California
It might just be that uncertainty is sexy. The thought that someone you've been sharing a bed with could just make up their mind one day and walk out the door forever is frightening, and perversely exciting. It's amazing that we ever allow ourselves to trust anyone or anything enough to ever believe that they're not going anywhere. Obviously, we allow ourselves to be lulled into that trust. You roll off the bed, in that dull morning of getting the clothing on and getting out the door to work, and fall right into that trust with some people, without ever thinking that you should reserve your celebration. It's living in the moment, supposedly, but it's living irresponsibly, not harboring the thought that the curtains could close at any minute.
The five songs that Paul Smith and London's Maximo Park elected to tape for this session are brilliant explorations of the fickleness of two people and just how easily and spontaneously a split could be made. These songs are mostly about leaving or the time that leads up to leaving - the thoughts that seem to come out of the woodwork when it's beginning to seem like a better and better idea all the time. They are songs that chronicle people when they're starting to slip, but then again, the people - fictional or otherwise - in these songs could still be together today, theoretically. They might have weathered all of these storms and they couldn't any more of a solid thing going for them. All a consideration like that does is reinforce the fragility of the moment, the quickened thumps of the heart that come when things start tipping in the wrong direction and the end looks nearer than it ever did before, only to recede into the background another time.
Smith sings a line like, "You spent the evening unpacking books from boxes," and you feel as if you were there with that person, their box and their books, staring at them. They were back in an apartment that they were familiar with and it was filled with the diminishing smell of the night's dinner, everything right for the time being. It's a lovely snapshot of domestic bliss, but one that will still surely encounter some more nights with boxes and those books. That particular shelf is not likely those books' final home. And for every instance that someone might claim they don't see coming, Smith offers, "We rarely see warning signs in the air we breathe/Right now I feel each and every fragment," for when it couldn't be more obvious that things were disassembling and scattering.