Eugene McGuinness certainly turned a few heads with his mini-album “The Early Learnings of Eugene McGuinness” in 2007, and with this – his first album proper – he will no doubt turn a few more.
An impressive – if slightly disjointed – effort, McGuinness’ self-titled album straddles many genres over its twelve tracks. From the 50s-esque baladeering of ‘Old Black & White Movies’ to the punky ‘Night-shift’, this album is nothing if not varied. While the aforementioned ‘B&W Movies’ is so twee it makes Belle & Sebastian sound grimey, tracks like ‘Moscow State Circus’ and ‘Disneyfied’ hint at a darker core, a core that McGuinness would do well to exploit.
When tracks take a meander on this record they do so at the pace of a tortoise – I can’t imagine even the easiest audience in the world greeting songs like ‘God In Space’ and ‘Not So Academic’ with anything more passionate than muted indifference. Having said that, the boy can definitely pen a tune, ‘Moscow State Circus’ is a cracking pop song, with Eugene’s voice sounding warm and familiar despite his relative youth. When he sticks to the straight-up, skiffly indie – pop, McGuinness is a revelation; if he’d tried a little less hard to be different he would have had a fantastic album here. As it is, McGuinness’ first album proper is frustratingly obtuse at times, and serves to highlight the fact that sometimes the simplest things in life are the most rewarding.
Words: Mark Williamson