Precocious Brit Eugene McGuinness built on the frantic pop promise of his 2007 debut with his eponymous sophomore effort by upping the infectious melodies, expanding his breathtaking Ray Davies/Morrissey vocabulary, and pushing the second-wave Brit-pop sensibilities of bands like the Libertines and the Arctic Monkeys into a whole new realm of sonic possibility. Possessed of a voice that can seemingly cradle every note like a newborn, McGuinness peppers each of the 12 songs that make up his second effort with enough ideas to spark a string of albums. Like his closest contemporaries Johnny Flynn, Patrick Wolf, Beirut, and White Rabbits, his efforts are both exceedingly clever and distinctly genre-bending, whether he's playing the snarky straight-ahead power pop provocateur ("Fonz," "Rings Around Rosa," and "Nightshift") or the wistful orchestral balladeer ("Those Old Black and White Movies Were True" and "Knock Down Ginger"). Like most musical artisans, McGuinness' two- to four-minute slabs of overachiever indie rock require more than a casual listen to sink in, though once they do, they stick like a pair of famous hands in cement. Singular pop craftsmen (and women) who can successfully tow the line between commercially viable and artistically sovereign are few and far between in the 21st century, which makes the arrival of Eugene McGuinness a true cause for celebration.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger