Eugene McGuinness

Chroma

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    7
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The fourth long-player from the mercurial English singer/songwriter and frontman for Eugene + the Lizards, Chroma kicks off with the nervy "Godiva," a thick, road-ready pop/rocker built on a retooled, minor-key riff on the Beatles' "Day Tripper" lead that sets the pace and tone for the wily and largely likable ten tracks that follow. McGuinness is an astute student of popcraft, and his confections almost always take more than a cursory spin to reveal their tasty centers. Chroma may be fortified by an extremely well-built hard candy shell, but there is some enjoyable sport to be made out of exploring its fissures. McGuinness' well-honed persona, which for the most part skillfully walks the line between cocky, vaguely paranoid Lothario and earnest, self-destructive romantic, is the glue that holds the house together -- he's as equally at home being the hunter ("Amazing Grace") as he is the quarry ("She Paints Houses"). Musically, Chroma flirts with driving, sexually charged Roxy Music art pop, evoking everyone from Berlin-era David Bowie on the serpentine "Black Stang" to Talking Heads on the sneaky "Milkshake," the latter of which subverts the dark groove of "Take Me to the River" with an ebullient, almost Motown-inspired chorus. To be fair, McGuinness still hasn't mastered the art of reeling in the listener on the strength of a single, well-executed hook, but on Chroma, he's got enough lines in the water that he's bound to get a bite sooner or later.

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