Second album from a precocious but endearing talent.
Rob Crossan 2010-06-16
Summery 80s synths abound all over this ductile carpet of an album. James Yuill has clearly been spending a fair bit of time in a blissed-out state on beaches across the Med since his last effort, 2008’s critically acclaimed Turning Down Water For Air, which placed him firmly at the vanguard of the folktronica movement.
First In Line is a fantastic slice of chunky disco in the mould of classic Saint Etienne, meaning that there’s just the slightest trace of melancholy in Yuill’s adroit tones as he softly tells us when the “sea starts, it’s life”. On Your Own sees the beats turned up to something approaching Calvin Harris territory, but Yuill’s tender voice succeeds in trampling any outright big-beat aggression contained within the track down into something infinitely more touching and vulnerable. It’s as if, despite the sweaty vibes of an endless summer night of clubbing, there’s always knowledge of the weary daybreak that is sure to follow.
This hedonism is broken up with slices of bonfire folk. Foreign Shore has a wonderfully creaking concertina effect in places as Yuill, whose voice takes on a pleasantly throaty drawl, warns us of an unwanted guest wading in from the deep waters; someone who “is known, known by law, to be a traitor from a foreign shore”.
Some listeners may feel Yuill has attempted to cram too many disparate styles into one relatively short album. And it’s true that the rapid alteration in styles, from pounding electro to hushed acoustic instrumentals, shouldn’t work. But like an old mixtape from a friend, made in the pre-iPod era, the stylistic judder between tracks only renders Yuill’s precociousness ever more endearing. Beach parties in 2010, from the soaring highs to the migraine-induced aftermath, won’t get a better soundtrack than this.