For Eugene McGuinness, commercial success has so far proved more elusive than critical acclaim, but the 26 year old Londoner’s second full-length solo effort The Invitation To The Voyage might just be the release to change his fortunes. Whilst still present, here the acerbic wit and clever wordplay that saw reviewers fawn over debut EP The Early Learnings Of… and his eponymous 2008 LP are nudged out of the spotlight in favour of big, muscular tunes the kids will eat up like sugar-coated chicken nuggets and enough sly nods to early-80s New Wave pop to keep old farts like me on our toes. McGuinness’ magpie tendencies mean that many of The Invitation‘s tracks recall (sometimes a little too readily) influences from across the musical spectrum – Arctic Monkeys and Queens Of The Stone Age on the angular “Sugarplum” and rockabilly thrasher “Lion” (below), Rufus Wainwright and Magnetic Fields on “Concrete Moon” and “Joshua” – but on the whole the collection falls into a Squeeze-gone-electro-pop pigeonhole that is very much McGuinness’ own, and with each song offering a different twist (brass and soul diva backing vocals over “Harlequinade”‘s grinding synth-bass line, the appropriation of Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn Theme” for “Shotgun“) the thin line between derivative and daring is navigated with skill and panache. Highlights are the motoring “Videogame”, spectacularly camp mariachi rocker “Thunderbolt” and the throbbing, strutting LCD Soundsystem-covering-“Billie Jean” closer “Japanese Cars”, but The Invitation is impressively filler-free. Those in the know have been tipping McGuinness as a future star for the past five years; looks like his time to shine has finally arrived.
The Invitation To The Voyage is out August 6 on via Domino Recording Co.