Miles Kane collaborator's third album threatens to drag him from the shadows
Despite him first appearing on rock’s radar in 2007, even a music fan with Rain Man’s memory skills would struggle to recall a hilarious interview quip from Eugene McGuinness. Few at gunpoint would be able to pick him out from the queue outside any given indie club. And could you, for a cool million, honestly whistle one of his tunes from start to finish?
No, he has always cut a peripheral, if well-respected, figure on the fringes of Britain’s classically minded guitar scene, largely as touring guitarist for Miles Kane. To be fair, his lack of rock-star visibility has mainly been due to the fact that he’s never bothered to strive for it; he’s a musician’s musician, interested in creating and collaborating rather than self-promotion.
On ‘Chroma’, his third full-length album, he’s made little attempt to buck this understated trend. Unlike the rollicking rockabilly of his debut, or the synthy ‘The Invitation To The Voyage’, it’s born from the same beat-music worship that moulded Miles. Opener ‘Godiva’ even starts with half a homage to The Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper’ riff.
As such, it’s an album that lives or dies by the strength of its tunes rather than its innovations, and in this sense it’s largely successful. The aforementioned ‘Godiva’ is a ballsy if derivative crunch that would prove a highlight on Kane’s setlist. ‘I Drink Your Milkshake’ is a woody, Scouse-sounding thunk on which Coral-esque bass creeps give way to McGuinness’ most lovely chorus yet. ‘Deception Of The Crush’ struts enticingly between early Kinks and a ‘60s Bond song and ‘She Paints Houses’, with its effortless Scott Walker-like shimmer, suggests that Kane and Alex Turner should make The Last Shadow Puppets a trio next time round.
There are moments that fail to truly ignite – the pacey ‘Black Stang’ was seemingly written purely to include something that matches the breakneck velocity of his runaway train of a debut. Still, these largely infrequent blips are easily ignored, and while it’s often been easy to sum up McGuinness himself with that statement, whether he wants the attention or not ‘Chroma’ is a forceful enough effort to propel him centre-stage.