James Vincent McMorrow – 'Post Tropical' album review

The Irish singer moves into new territory on a second album that recalls Bon Iver's recent explorations

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5

It’s almost too easy to lump Irish singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow into the same rustic boat as Bon Iver’s equally wounded, bearded singer Justin Vernon. This is a comparison that is particularly pertinent on McMorrow’s latest release ‘Post Tropical’. A few years back, we saw Vernon tire of ‘just sitting down with a guitar’: the subsequent years found him singing hooks with Kanye West and exploring soul, soft-rock and R&B. Now it seems that McMorrow too has become tired of the straight folk sounds of his debut and moved swiftly into new sonic territory.

‘Post Tropical’ is billed as an album in which ‘nothing was written on guitar, and nothing was linear’ in an attempt to ‘give this record the feel and movement of [a] hip-hop record’. The growling, throaty vocals that occasionally reared their head on McMorrow’s debut album ‘Early in The Morning’ have completely dissipated in favour of a consistent falsetto, slathered in chorus effect like a strawberry submerged in sugar.

It makes for a decent record, steeped in tasteful sentimentality and experimental endeavour. In particular, opener ‘Cavalier’ effectively acknowledges McMorrow’s stylistic departure: he takes the R&B formula and twists it into something that resembles a dark, haunting and organic slow jam, packed with claps, slow bass and (almost) heartbreaking lyricism (‘I remember my first love…’). The rest of the album toys with different qualities and textures: pulsing 808 on ‘Red Dust’, a soaring horn section on ‘Gold’ and a hugely ethereal shower of mandolins on ‘The Lakes’.

So do those all-too-easy comparisons to Bon Iver undermine McMorrow’s music? Not particularly. Although ‘Post Tropical’ may appear a little lacklustre next to Vernon’s own folk-breakout album ‘Holocene’, ‘Post Tropical’ positively oozes with the pleasure of its own making, the sense of a musician exploring new ground.

Buy this album here

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.

Listen to James Vincent McMorrow on Spotify

Read more album reviews

Albums of the Week

John Grant, Fetty Wap, Rudimental and Shopping

Albums of the Week

Kwabs, Battles, Ought and Duran Duran

Albums of the Week

The Libertines, Miley Cyrus, Max Richter and Dam-Funk

Albums of the Week

Beach House, Dr Dre, Yo La Tengo and more

Read more Time Out album reviews

Watch the video for 'Red Dust'

Read more music features

Time Out readers' top songs of 2015

We love discovering new music that hits that special spot, so we asked some #takeovertimeout contributors: what’s your top song of 2015 so far?

Arcade Fire on teashops, London and ‘The Reflektor Tapes’

Time Out reader Joe Presley discovers five things you didn’t know about Arcade Fire

Disclosure on Sam Smith’s ring, toilet reading and ‘Caracal’

Guy and Howard Lawrence tell Time Out reader Hannah Ashraf about their new album and becoming more than just a dance band

One to Watch: Wet

Time Out reader Sarah Taylor explains why this Brooklyn trio are ones to watch

Why I love Cadogan Hall

Time Out reader Jaime Tung explores the magic of an intimate concert hall in Chelsea

See all Time Out music features