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James Vincent McMorrow “Post Tropical” – Album Review

Best-known for his fragile folksy reworking of Steve Winwood’s 80s hit, “Higher Love,” James Vincent McMorrow’s 2010 debut, Early In The Morning, was a wintry one-man-and-his-guitar affair which understandably drew comparisons with the likes of Bon Iver, Damien Rice and Ray LaMontagne. The beard and flannel shirt appearance may still remain, but second album, Post Tropical, positions the Dubliner as an almost entirely different artist.

Indeed, with their spacious blend of digital beats, multi-tracked vocals and ghostly synths, these ten tracks have more in common with the otherworldly electronic R&B of McMorrow’s namesake James Blake than any of the acoustic troubadours he was lumped in with first time round.

But of course, James Vincent McMorrow’s astonishing vocal range ensures that Post Tropical remains utterly distinctive, most notably on lead single, “Cavalier,” a lush and poetic recollection of a first love featuring a falsetto so stratospheric that it makes Mariah Carey sound like a booming baritone.

Meanwhile, the country twangs and military rhythms of “The Lakes,” the swelling hymnal balladry of “Look Out” and the theatrical “Gold,” – which possesses an almost regal-like quality thanks to its stately bursts of brass – all prove that McMorrow’s production skills are just as magnetic.

As beautifully performed as they are, the melodies on the album’s languid second half sadly don’t quite reach the same standard. After all the talk of being inspired by his “early experiments in recreating the works of N.E.R.D.,” it’s disappointing that the tempo rarely moves beyond walking pace.

But James Vincent McMorrow also recently claimed that instead of relying on well-worn ideas, “it’s a musician’s responsibility to make new and interesting things.” And few could argue that with Post Tropical, he hasn’t delivered on both counts.

3 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Electronic Music


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