...fast-paced, joyously bubbling brooks of melody...
Chris White 2007
The name Eugene McGuinness brings to mind a hoary, drink-addled Irish poet rather than a fresh-faced young troubadour. Yet this 21-year-old from Liverpool via London has delivered what is undoubtedly one of the most interesting debuts of 2007 with this charmingly idiosyncratic mini-album.
An up-and-coming singer-songwriter McGuinness may be, but those looking for the next Blunt or Morrison should stop reading now. The mop-topped youngster decided against a career in fine art to pursue his musical ambitions, and his intricate yet immediate songs paint an infinitely more imaginative sonic picture than the blandly pedestrian likes of the two James’.
Although less than half an hour long, The Early Learnings of Eugene McGuinness is brimful with ideas. Pianos, guitars, wurlitzers, frantic percussion and electronica all bid for attention alongside McGuinness’s instantly likeable, often multi-tracked voice, which soars euphorically and coos playfully with equal aplomb. Opening tracks “High Score” and (the single) “Monsters Under The Bed” show him at his best; fast-paced, joyously bubbling brooks of melody that combine a very English lyricism with clever, varied arrangements. The high quality control continues on “Bold Street”, a quirky, Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd-style gem that wryly describes a trip through a bleak modern town of ‘Burberry check, curb-side sex and police cars’.
The second half of the album is not as strong, with McGuinness allowing the pace to slow a little on longer, more introspective songs like “Madeleine”, although the epically-titled yet simple and heartfelt closing track proper “A Girl Whom My Eyes Shine For But My Shoes Run From” closes the set on a high note. At times McGuinness over-eggs his pudding in his enthusiasm to throw in as many ingredients as possible, but overall this is a first course of distinctly palatable promise, with the best treats hopefully yet to come.