James Vincent McMorrow belongs to a class of contemporary male vocalists who sing like they’re moments away from lapsing into silence; not like they’re moments away from seizing another’s flesh, like sex-obsessed R&B crooners Miguel and Jeremih, or from dissipating into a mytho-cosmic haze, like Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, but rather from falling dead silent. Perpetually, these singers are on the brink of some quarantined void—a place of despair, hurt, and vitiating self-pity tucked just behind the rib cage. Thanks to the pervasive influence of Iron & Wine’s hushed-voice aesthetic, their number has grown markedly.
James Vincent McMorrow is a man of contradictions. His last album, Post-Tropical, had a colourful beach scene on the cover, but was filled with pristine, icy-cool, R&B-inflected pop. His latest is titled We Move, but features very static, minimalist cover art; it's said to be his rawest grapple yet with anxiety, but it's full of lush, buoyant pop songs.These contradictions are captivating.
Until recently, Irish folk singer and songwriter James Vincent McMorrow only existed in wisps. His delicate falsetto would vanish quickly back into the silence of his sparse arrangements and his ideas were veiled and occasionally incomprehensible, blurred as lyric fragments and extended metaphors. His sophomore album, Post Tropical, was atmospheric in theme and tenor, relying primarily on mood and melody to produce sensations.
The third full-length studio outing from the Irish singer/songwriter, We Move finds James Vincent McMorrow transitioning from bucolic balladeer to minimalist R&B bard, once again tapping the engineering skills of award-winning, Toronto-based producers Nineteen85 and Frank Dukes. While not a huge sonic sea change, We Move definitely doubles down on the electronic elements that his co-producers helped usher in on 2014's aptly named Post-Tropical. Opener and lead single "Rising Water," a politely propulsive bit of alt-R&B-infused Scandinavian-style synth-pop, distills this newfound voltaic temperament, which invokes names like Drake, Bon Iver, and Sam Smith, into something far less icy than its sonic trappings would suggest.
Repetition is essential to pop music. Catchy vocal hooks and irresistible samples are the genre's currency: in some ways, you're only as good as how memorable your chorus is. James Vincent McMorrow understands that. The smooth-voiced Irish singer's R&B falls decidedly into the pop category, and his third album is plenty repetitive.