Album Review: James Vincent McMorrow // Post Tropical

james-vincent-mcmorrow-post-tropical-300x300The follow-up to his 2010 debut record Early In The Morning, Post Tropical is an ostentatious jewel, his second instalment is occupied by idyllic songwriting that is as captivating as it is genuinely beautiful. Here, the Irish man ditches the ho-hum folk and embraces a style reminiscent of Sigur Ros’s airy soundscapes, resulting in a melodic production that is unpretentiously blissful. Constant appraisal and comparisons can become tedious for any musician, and McMorrow has always received the Bon Iver association (a reputable accolade, I think you may agree), but this is an LP breaks through any barriers, rendering aforementioned references almost passive, even pointless. Stylistically, development is always encouraged and desired, and over the course of 41 minutes, we see the evolution of McMorrow as an artist.

‘Cavalier’, the album’s lead single, catches you somewhat unaware, blending McMorrow’s harrowing vocal with smooth RnB. As the artwork suggests, McMorrow attempts to amalgamate both the glacial and the tropical. Truly different from the more conservative sounds of Early in the Morning, there are components of classic 90’s hip hop for all to hear. Cleverly formulated, the sound was clearly conceived in a methodical, well-approached manner. Even in 2014, the era where constant track shuffling seems to be the norm, opening songs still need to attain our undivided attention. ‘Cavalier’ does this wonderfully, setting a foundation to construct the rest of the album upon. James is clearly setting out on an innovative sonic journey, easing the listener into a unique flow.

The title track is another fine example of McMorrow’s musical dexterity. Arguably the LP’s highlight, Post Tropical is all-embracing, immersed in a sea of poignant lyrics. The expressive singer-songwriter is susceptible, charming and emotional, delivering gorgeous lyrics over a solemn yet captivating backdrop.

When compared with his debut, Post Tropical is certainly the more dynamic of the two, especially when you consider the array of themes and musical directions explored. ‘Red Dus’t, yet another stellar piece, carries a striking and prominent falsetto. Skip this track at your peril, as McMorrow’s vocal performance at the finale is a moment of magic.

‘Repeating’ demonstrates the vocal capacity of McMorrow, an ethereal moan emerges, rising gradually, before concluding through emotive crescendos. It’s full of character, without ever appearing pretentious or grandiose. Auspiciously, one thing remains constant throughout, McMorrow’s opaque falsetto never falters, which is, arguably, the catalyst behind such a stellar musical offering.

For so many artists, the follow-up record poses a tremendous test, nevertheless, McMorrow overcomes any obstacles in a style of sheer ease. Experimentation often results in epic failures, however, rather than just deciding to replicate the flow on his debut record, the Irish crooner takes the fundamental basics from Early In The Morning and constructs an album of assorted sounds and allusions.

If the drudgery of January is overbearing, why not entertain the serene chance of escapism offered by McMorrow? New 8-1

Post Tropical is out on 13th January on Vagrant
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Buy Post Tropical on Rough Trade or iTunes

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