Eugene McGuinness – The Invitation to the VoyageCultureMusicAlbum reviews
Eugene McGuinness is a super cool alt/indie singer-songwriter and he has enthralling music videos. His new album The Invitation to the Voyage was recently released on Domino (his third for the label) and features a blend of brazen swagger with a slightly unhinged, sinister twist. It does, however, amount to something slightly less than it probably should.
The imaginative and charismatic turns of Lion and Thunderbolt are particularly vibrant; the drunken brass lines at the climax of the latter flesh out and warp an otherwise unremarkable tune, while the nightmarish and danceable former track has loopy ideas to spare.
In fact, therein lies the problem with The Invitation to the Voyage; it’s bursting at the seams with ideas and Eugene McGuinness clearly has a knack for weird and wonderful instrumentation, but the fundamental elements of the songs, the melodies, the lyrics and the structures are rather bland. Sugarplum, for example, has comparatively straight-forward instrumentation (drum machine, synth strings, fuzz bass) and a strong, directional hook for the chorus making it one of the most memorable songs of the bunch, but even so, it’s still not particularly inspiring.
Though McGuinness has a powerful voice and he delivers his vocals with attitude (though occasionally veering a bit too close to the operatic), there is still something rather characterless about it. Some of his vocal gymnastics are indeed impressive and there’s no doubt that he must shine as a live performer, but in a song such as 80s-fest Japanese Cars, in which he attempts his best David Bowie impression, they’re not all that striking.
That is really a small complaint though, in the grand scheme of the album. His lyrics, on the other hand, are really rather lacking. The aforementioned Thunderbolt, for example, contains such gems as: “I leave my room on a moonbeam to the ministry of sound,” and “And the Gods are drunk, snorting stardust, they feast on our fears, and spunk on our trust”. That really is just the tip of the iceberg. More evidence can be seen in clumsy metaphors such as: “I hear a rhapsody for a concrete moon, below a chandelier of frozen tears I loom”. The list could quite easily go on.
It is certainly an interesting listen with stuttering, confounding and enlivening production techniques, instrumentation, ideas and a bombastic attitude. It feels, however, as though he is yet to tie it all together into something really memorable.
Standout track: Thunderbolt
Listen to the trailer for Thunderbolt here: