Invitation to the Voyage
Released: Monday 6 August 2012
Eugene McGuinness never laid claim to any originality in his music, just quality writing and structure, and after two not necessarily succesful but critically well-received albums, on Invitation to the Voyage he's worked with producers Clive Langer (Madness/Elvis Costello) and Dan Carey (Hot Chip/Santigold), and you can really hear where their influences come in to play.
So maybe the final Talking Heads-style output isn't all down to him, but McGuinness's lyrics are clever, and the writing on Invitation to the Voyage shows a huge amount of maturity. That is apart from the odd useless filler line like "round round, baby, round round"in 'Sugarplum', which really is the let-down track on the album. It's decidedly weak, plodding and not half as catchy as the preceeding 'Harlequinade', full of electro hooks and soaring vocals.
Picking things up and taking a dramatic turn to a rockabilly influence, 'Lion' and the much-hailed single 'Shotgun' could've come straight from a 60s subterranean movie - tweeting harmonies, the slurry voice, middle-eighth bassline, the easy drum beat - with McGuinness's twist on the rock 'n' roll trend. They're such sexy tracks. Never thought I'd say that when he hopped on stage at a local festival four years ago.
Good melodies and retro riffs are overlaid with soaring harmonies and a voice that quite easily gives you goose-bumps, the a capella intro to 'Videogame' being one of those moments. He's got a great voice too, not quite as grating as Alex Turner (Depsite being a good writer, nothing can be done about the quality of his instrument, so to speak) and definitely more substantial than Miles Kane.
McGuinness has thrown it all in to this album, not just the great voice and the rockabilly-pop vibe, but ballads with string sections ('Concrete Moon', so Roy Orbison), mariachi trumpets ('Thunderbolt') and Merseybeat (the title track). It might not be strikingly original and cutting-edge, but there's a clever mix of styles and instruments, knitted together with some spine-tingling vocals and a definite amount of schmooziness which wasn't there in the last two albums. He's gone from innocent boy-with-a-guitar full of ideas and ideals, to a grown-up songwriter full of cool, poise, swagger and knowledge.