James Vincent McMorrow Post Tropical
Published Jan 13, 2014Though it was probably inevitable that the monstrous success of Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago would spawn a generation of falsetto-voiced mellowniks, it has nonetheless been surprising to see just how many new artists sound like direct descendants of that 2007 release. Top of the heap is Ireland's James Vincent McMorrow, whose second album will likely find a wide audience among Vernon-ophiles with its finely calibrated languidness and carefully measured beauty. But it is this very precision that will be, to other ears, its undoing. Over ten tracks and 40 minutes, Post Tropical never picks up any steam, never comes to life. Mere gorgeousness is, it turns out, not quite enough to sustain a record.
The addition of understated backing vocals and some electronic instrumentation only serves to exaggerate this effect, washing out the songs with waves of sleepy beauty. Though possessed of a stunning voice, McMorrow's falsetto floats dreamily above his songs like a cloud, at once lovely and insubstantial. Even after repeated listens, one struggles to identify different tunes here, different melodies. However, the Jeff Buckley-ish intensity of "Glacier," a late-album spirit-lifter, lurks like a hungry wolf among the sheep. More of that next time, please. (Dine Alone)