James Vincent McMorrow’s sophomore output, Post Tropical, is a distinct deviation from his first. The album art, a soft painting of a Hawaiian beach setting that contrasts greatly to the dark instagram-filtered photo of a very British beach of his previous effort exemplifies the shift in his sound. The folky, Mumford-esque vibes of Early in the Morning have given way to a soft RnB feel that is reminiscent of James Blake, and all that remains to connect the two is his soothing, dulcet tones.
This is not to say this is a bad thing. Without discrediting acoustic guitar dominated indie folk, the absence of prominent instruments directs all focus to his stunning falsetto. Lead single “Cavalier,” particular highlights the 30 year old Irishman’s talents, evoking strong feelings as he shows off his impressive range whilst creating a nostalgic picture of a lost love. “Glacier,” is another stand out track, with his voice pouring particularly gloriously over the electronically produced hip hop beat, creating a resulting triumph of sublime intensity. “Gold” is equally uplifting, as it confidently builds up to a highly motivating conclusion.
At points one feels almost within a dream, with the delicately twinkling intro to “The Lakes” feeling particularly otherworldly. Perhaps this occasionally goes too far and the album becomes too chilled-out to fully grasp attention, but on the whole it remains fully-rooted on the right side of the line. Maybe this album won’t be the banging beat of every house party, but it’ll be a more than adequate soundtrack to my mornings.
Lyrically, McMorrow remains just as poetic as before. He tells of a ringing bell that “chimes through this shimmering shell” in “Red Dust” and reminds us that the songwriting abilities of this singer-songwriter are equally as strong as his vocal talents. Equally of note is that he had no other musicians with him to aid him with the recording of this album. Laid down in a remote part of Texas, the ten songs are entirely a work of his own art.
Maybe it’s the album’s ability to soothe a hangover that’s particularly attractive right now, but this album is one that definitely deserves to be paid attention to. In straying from the expected path, James Vincent McMorrow has found his home.