James Yuill

Movement in a Storm

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Hearing James Yuill start off his 2010 album with sentiments like "I hate myself and I hate you too," however calmly sung, against a synth-bass arrangement that ramps up the ominous crunch early is almost a bit disconcerting. "Give You Away" does move into slightly gentler waters at points, but Movement in a Storm finds the U.K. artist as apt to aim for darker feelings as much as seemingly cheerful release, both lyrically and, in his own way, sonically. A more trademark blend of brisk, shimmering guitar and equally peppy electronic arrangements kicks in with "Crying for Hollywood," building to a lovely conclusion, but the sense of darker elements bubbling up keeps things from simply being sugary. Yet when Yuill focuses more on his acoustic folk side, there's often just as much energy as melancholy -- "Foreign Shore," with its rushed central figure and sudden bursts of activity, and "Wild Goose at Night," a music-box/guitar instrumental of sorts, are two examples of how he balances out things carefully -- and exuberantly. "Sing Me a Song" is an even better mix of elegance, building synth string swells, sudden harmonies, reflections on romantic unsureness, and a big, steady house pulse running below it all. All this said, all it takes is the pure rush of electro-pop beauty opening "First in Line" -- the spirit of late-'80s New Order drop-kicked 20 years ahead -- to see why Yuill is as good as he is.