|Eugene McGuinness — The Invitation To The Voyage (2012)|
Eugene McGuinness — The Invitation To The Voyage
Also known as: Eugene + the Lizards
Born: 11 August 1985, Leytonstone, London, England
Location: London, England
Album release: August 6, 2012
Record Label: Domino
01. Harlequinade (3:41)
02. Sugarplum (3:19)
03. Lion (2:57)
04. Videogame (4:15)
05. Shotgun (3:29)
06. Concrete Moon (3:14)
07. Thunderbol (4:18)
08. Invitation To The Voyage (3:57)
09. Joshua (2:55)
10. Japanese Cars (4:30)
Notable instruments: Gibson J-160E; Epiphone Casino; Fender Mustang
Press contact: / Online -
Agent: Russell Warby (William Morris) -
General director: Mat Schneck / James Endeacott, Oh Mercy Management -
Flashes of imagination can’t quite satisfy expectations for this second album.
Camilla Pia 2012-07-24
¶ The idea of Eugene McGuinness is great. Recently re-styled as the voice of the smartphone-wielding London youth, his slick quiff and black leather jacket paint him as Miles Kane’s best bud after a Carnaby Street shopping spree.
¶ He’s prowled the underground, surreptitiously looking over couples’ shoulders and tapping out iPhone notes on contemporary romance and city kid malaise. These topics he subsequently brings to life in his new incarnation as patchwork pop storyteller.
¶ And certainly McGuinness pulls it off for about half of The Invitation to the Voyage. He majestically straddles off-kilter arrangements and sing-able choruses on Lion, reeling off brilliantly deranged lines about “stitching up freaks in my secret laboratory” and “skeletons dancing up on xylophones” at a helter-skelter pace over handclaps, woozy rockabilly riffs and attacking basslines.
¶ Shotgun, too, is a winningly dark and infectious ode to a relationship that leaves him “black and blue, battered and bruised”. “But I care not,” he ventures, with a glint in his eye. Concrete Moon shows the songwriter at his peak lyrically, with its couplets about “lotharios and clowns” and “passageways of electric arcades”, which all build to a thrillingly cacophonous operatic finale.
¶ Thunderbolt and Japanese Cars show this record’s breadth stylistically, featuring pizzicato violins, flurries of horns, growling guitars, 80s art-pop leanings and sparkling electronics. Occasionally, however, McGuinness’ new bombastic approach to music-making teeters into bland and forgettable territories, making the better moments of this set sound positively out-there in comparison.
¶ “We will rush and crush on the underground,” he rhymes lazily over the swaggering beat of Sugarplum (eww) with its (unintentional?) Sugababes skit: “round round, baby, round round”. Videogame is (again, probably unintentionally) reminiscent of Robbie Williams; and the bromantic lyrics of Joshua are just painful.
¶ With a concept as potent and full of potential as McGuinness’ attempt to provide a fantastical take on the “frustration, restlessness and isolation that 21st century urban living can often bring,” more bite and imagination was expected here. There are flashes of it for sure, but not quite enough.
• "Gorgé de tubes, un des plus réjouissants albums venus d’Angleterre ces derniers mois."
"Eugene McGuinness, jeune gaillard de Liverpool publie ce printemps son troisième album. Pas d’ego ici, pas de fookin’ bagarres, pas de rock nombriliste – McGuinness agit seul et bien, et son Invitation to the Voyage est un étonnant disque de pop anglaise, dont certains chapitres méritent une petite ola.
• On pense ainsi, d’abord, à Sugarplum, gigantesque tube potentiel. Pompier mais pas pompeux, le morceau, porté par une mélodie tyrannique, dégaine un refrain superglu taillé pour la FM et pour les festivals, façonné pour la touche “repeat” du baladeur numérique. On pense aussi à Videogame, un titre qui n’a rien à voir avec Lana Del Rey mais beaucoup avec les Smiths et Television Personalities – le genre de morceau qu’a été infichu d’écrire Interpol ces cinq dernières années et dont l’ascension centrale est une arme de destruction massive.
• En apparence, les morceaux d’Eugene McGuinness semblent souvent faire n’importe quoi. Ils évoquent tour à tour Rufus Wainwright et Joy Division, les Barracudas et Primal Scream. Ils organisent les noces entre le son Madchester et le cabaret, font fricoter musique baroque et pop FM.
• Mais le désordre, en fait, est apparent : derrière cette vitrine de satin et ces chansons à clochettes, l’écriture de McGuinness est aussi instruite que son chant de voltigeur est savant. Les deux, d’ailleurs, convolent parfaitement sur Lion, petite tuerie rock dont l’efficacité rivalise avec le Banquet de Bloc Party. Sur son précédent album, le jeune Eugene posait en costume d’escrime. Ce nouveau disque le place direct sur le ring de boxe. Victoire par KO." (source: www.lesinrocks.com)
• Bon, je ne suis pas vraiment d'accord avec cette critique élogieuse, mais si ça vous dit...
Track by track by The 405, 06 August 2012:
• I thought it was quite an obvious opener. The record is mostly set around the city at night. The synths, brass and disco beat, it's a 'get in the car' sort of tune.
• It's a pop song, lots of Frankie Valli was being listened too. Pinched some things from 'What's the Difference' by Dr Dre. I wanted the album to be my vision of a modern pop record, this song sums up where I'm at currently.
• 'Lion' was the first thing we recorded. All these songs were written really quickly, but this one felt like it came out faster than I could sing it. Sort of sounds that way to. I love it.
• There's more space on this album than other things I've done, that's a route I want to go down in the future I think. Here I nicked a bit from Neu but the song itself is strange cause there's no real chorus. It's like a hymn.
• This was just me dicking around in the studio with that sample. I never thought it would see the light of day. Let alone be a single. But I adore it for that reason, it helped me steer the whole album sonically.
• It's a very 'London' song, think i wrote it on new year's day at the piano. I can't really play the piano. When I do, I write things like this.
• Like 'Lion', this was written dead fast. There are songs like 'Sister Ray' by Velvet Underground and 'Sweepstakes' by Gorrilaz, that just bend my head. I wanted to take 'Thunderbolt' as far as it could go, until all my ramblings were drowning in the noise.
Invitation To The Voyage
• This song and the next one are the 'song' songs. They don't go to outer space, they're more grounded, in my head at least. 'Song' songs are the ones I imagine I'll still sing when I'm older and learned to play the piano. All classy in a smoky lounge.
• This was written years ago and I never got round to recording it. Quite Roy Orbison. Get on the middle eight for some drama.
• This album ends with a car chase. Straight from the off I wanted to make quite a dancey record, but the songwriting is always in what i do and sometimes you just end up inventing mad stories. Like this one.
• The Early Learnings of Eugene McGuinness EP (2007, Double Six)
• Eugene McGuinness (2008, Domino Records)
• Glue (as Eugene + the Lizards) (2009, Domino Records)
• The Invitation to the Voyage (2012, Domino Records)
• "Monsters Under the Bed" (2007)
• "Bold Street" (2007)
• "Moscow State Circus" (2008)
• "Fonz" (2009)
• "Bugjuice (2010)
• "Lion" (2011)
• "Thunderbolt" (2011)
• "Shotgun" (2012)
• "Harlequinade" (2012)
• "Sugarplum" (2012)
¶ Equally primal and playful, swaggering yet soulful, anthemic but sonically experimental, The Invitation To The Voyage is the second full-length album from Eugene McGuinness and his most powerfully conceived and fully realised artistic statement to date. Recorded with the dual assistance of producers Clive Langer (Elvis Costello, Morrissey, Madness) and Dan Carey (MIA, Hot Chip, Santigold) The Invitation is an unabashedly bombastic, brave and above all, thoroughly contemporary update on a distinctly English strand of lyrical, gently fantastical pop songwriting that locates and celebrates the beautiful and the bizarre in modern life.
¶ More emotionally focused and musically muscular than its predecessors (2007's The Early Learnings of Eugene McGuinness mini-album and the following year's debut eponymous full length), The Invitation retains the wild, almost hallucinatory vision and acid humour of Eugene's first work but boasts a new-found emotional focus and command of universal sentiment. It's a subtle change that marks this record out as a genuinely powerful pop album and confirms Eugene as one of the most stylistically distinctive and uniquely insightful writers of the present day. The Invitation To The Voyage is a record littered with immediately memorable, subtly profound status update observations and charmingly precise details that manage to brilliantly illuminate those most relatable of twenty first century experiences in a manner that feels infinitely familiar on one hand and yet wholly novel on the other. The subject matter itself may be familiar - but in the hands of such a compelling narrator as Eugene – equal parts humorous, surreal, despairing and celebratory – the drama that unfolds in the nightclubs, rush hour scrambles and text message inboxes of his depiction have a certain elegance and poetry that is rare. These are songs that derive their power from having one foot in the art house and another in the public house. "I wanted to write songs that really captured a certain feeling that most people experience all the time but in a different way" explains Eugene. "I wanted to do a record that just reflected positivity, that feeling of coming out of a difficult period and looking forward. The images and ideas are fired out from all directions, it's all a bit uncertain where we're going to end up, but a bit of ruthless optimism is what it's all about. The dull stuff and the humdrum doesn't matter, because it's always in your hands."
¶ This contrast of the frustration, restlessness and isolation that 21st century urban living can often bring about and the great potential for release and escape it can offer at the same time is a recurring theme throughout the album. The machine gun hail-of-consciousness of 'Lion', for instance, sounds like the work of a man about to explode. "That song was basically just meant to be like the biggest fuck off my soul could muster at the time, a primal scream really" explains Eugene. "It was kind of at the point when you're so frustrated you're beyond reason." Similarly, the beery, tender 'Joshua' - "a song about friendship, about how we keep our guards up, it's an attempt to communicate something sweeter than just 'you alright mate?'"- and the swinging, soulful 'Sugar Plum' finds Eugene trying to implore a love interest to seize a fleeting moment of happiness from the mundane ("…for tomorrow we will rush and crush on the underground") but struggling to communicate properly. "I should have said it, when I had credit, I should have just let it all out" as he puts it – a particularly good example of the use of specific cultural reference points to express more general sentiment that form a regular motif throughout the album. It's not all frustration, though, and the Peter Gunn-sampling 'Shotgun', contains the pay-off in the form of good old hedonistic redemption: "every time I dance with you, every time I dance with you", Eugene croons, "I stagger out the night club black and blue, battered and bruised… but I care not." "It's about those moments of transcendence", explains Eugene, "that make all the rest of the rubbish worthwhile somehow", and indeed the album as a whole has an uncanny knack of encapsulating the feeling of those instances and the tension and tedium that they negate, perfectly.
¶ It's a stylistic emphasis that is matched musically. The Invitation is a high-octane joyride of an album that feels destined to actually soundtrack the exact same thrills, spills, heartache and hangovers of the weekend warrior tomorrow that it details today. As the surging chorus of enormous robo-disco stomp 'Harlequinade' that opens proceedings puts it, Eugene is very much "going for the jugular" here; big hooks (and there are plenty) are met head-on with a wonderfully agile vocal, arrangements strut and soar majestically and the always impressively eclectic musicality of Eugene's work (taking in elements of disco, post-punk, R & B, soul, surf and even krautrock) is really allowed to run riot. "When I listen to my first records", says Eugene, "I can definitely still enjoy them and hear a lot of myself in them. It's like sonic DNA – those records sort of represented and reflected the music I grew up listening to, the classic pop music my parents got me into like The Beatles and The Stones etc. and that stays with you forever. In many ways the new record was written with those classic records in mind, but I also wanted to make it as modern sounding as possible – I never wanted it to be retro or nostalgic, the songs should mean something to people that are young and experiencing those kind of feelings and situations right now. I don't think anyone has quite done that properly for a while." 2012
|Eugene McGuinness — The Invitation To The Voyage (2012)|
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