By Kimberly Givant ’17, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor
In 2010, James Vincent McMorrow broke into Ireland’s music scene with his debut album Early in the Morning. Upon the album’s release, it reached number one, went platinum, and was nominated for a Choice Music Prize. The album received such widespread acclaim that a year later, Early in the Morning was released to the UK and the United States, winning the singer/songwriter a European Border Breakers Award for the success the album received beyond Ireland.
On Jan. 10, 13, and 14, McMorrow released his highly anticipated album, Post Tropical, to Ireland, the UK, and the US, shocking audiences with his remarkably impressive experimentation with his sound.
Post Tropical exemplifies James Vincent McMorrow’s courage and genius as a musician. On the new album, the Dublin-based artist has completely eliminated the melancholy folk style that made songs like “We Don’t Eat,” “If I Had A Boat,” and “Hear The Noise That Moves Soft And Low” off of his debut album so popular. All that remains the same is McMorrow’s unique falsetto voice and creative lyricism.
When the album’s first song “Cavalier” was released as a single in October, McMorrow fans knew they were in for a surprise with his new album. The delicate soulfulness of the song with the incorporation of electronic instruments like the “808” and sensual hip-hop beats, made it drastically different from anything the supposedly exclusively indie- folk musician had ever produced before.
The 808 effects in the song “Red Dust,” the waterfall-effect of 12 mandolins in “The Lakes,” and the solemn piano paired with square-wave synthesizers and cymbals in “Look Out,” exemplifies the album’s originality and the daringness of the artist.
Returning from tour after the success of Early in the Morning, McMorrow had numerous pages of lyrics and ideas for his next project, but no music to accompany any of it. The location in which he did all of the recording for Post Tropical is almost completely responsible for his complete and abrupt change in sound. Rather than writing all of the music surrounded by the green hills of Ireland, McMorrow wrote, recorded, and experimented with the album in a studio located on a pecan farm half a mile from the Mexican border where bands such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beach House, Animal Collective, and At The Drive In have all been inspired in the past. McMorrow used the sounds and ideas that were born amongst these surreal surroundings to create his experimental record.
The songs “Gold,” “All Points,” and “Post Tropical,” with their hip- hop beats and sung almost entirely in falsetto, exhibits the inspiration McMorrow drew from 1960s soul in Post Tropical.
McMorrow’s career has often been compared to that of James Vernon, frontman of popular band Bon Iver. Like Vernon, McMorrow refused to repeat himself after a successful debut album. Both musicians, rather than sticking to “what worked” chose to drastically experiment with their styles. McMorrow believes that an artist’s music should change and grow with the change and growth of the musician. In an interview with Michelle Geslani he said of Post Tropical, “Every fiber of it is me—me at this point in time, in terms of what musically resonates with me and what I wanted to achieve.”
Post Tropical is truly unlike anything else. McMorrow has successfully experimented and reinvented his sound in an album that critics are universally applauding. Because McMorrow’s audience is now aware that it will never be able to predict what kind of music he is going to produce, all of his future albums will be surrounded by increased anticipation. With Post Tropical, James Vincent McMorrow has established himself as one of the greatest, most ingenious singer/songwriters of our time.
First-year Kimberly Givant is Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor. Her email is kgivant@fandm. edu.