Cool and colourful.

McGuinness 2 WPMcGuinness became more adventurous with 2012’s The Invitation to the Voyage, which had trace elements of Parklife era Blur, but Chroma is a further sonic shift away from straight ahead British pop. He continues with occasional fey psychedelia and British queerness, not that it’s camp, but there is a lightness to both his voice and lyrics within his deft, often provocative, wordplay.

‘Godiva’ is a raucous opener echoing The Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper’, a perfect place to start when showing your ‘60s influence. ‘Immortals’ throbs and chimes with filmic quality from the same decade, while the vocals are pure New Wave. It’s suave and effortlessly cool, but it’s the fidgety bass lines which create an interesting listen for McGuinness’ fourth LP. This is a bass centric record, creating pace and groove, which gives the album a harder edge on his skewed pop vision. Smooth harmonies appear all over Chroma often dripping a honeyed feel over the tracks.

‘Deception of the Crush’ goes full blown ‘60s club house band, a shimmering back drop with black roll necks all round, while Heart of Chrome and Fairlight, with their pulsating undercurrent and frenetic twang, lead to a thunderous close of an LP which had the potential to fizzle out rather than pop at its conclusion.

McGuinness again displays his skill for concise pop, wrapping up his lovelife dramas in under three minutes, but while Chroma punches well, it lacks enough killer blows. He needs more quality to his consistency to be able to take on his contemporaries, Miles Kane and Jake Bugg. Chroma doesn’t have an immediacy that grabs you around the throat and shakes your body down. These songs are less gaudy, yet more fluent than McGuinness has offered before, creating a more balanced and even set. His Britpop croon and various influences mingle easily and play well together, but are perhaps too numerous and unique to take on the mainstream; if crystallised they could take him into a higher league.

This and other reviews I’ve written can be found on fasterlouder.com.au

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