Olivia Gulino, Contributing Writer
Who says Justin Vernon has a monopoly on a haunting falsetto? James Vincent McMorrow lends precisely this vocal element to his new album, “Post Tropical,” released a couple of weeks after the start of the new year. With an already-established reputation for lyrics full of meaning and emotion and a resonant voice that stays with you long after the song ends, McMorrow’s new effort does not disappoint. He not only exceeds but also transcends any expectations on the part of his listeners.
His first album, “Early in the Morning,” introduced the musical world to McMorrow’s poetic approach to the indie genre, with such standout tracks as “We Don’t Eat” and “If I Had a Boat.” His sophomore attempt maintains this signature, soulful melancholy, while breaking from the folk elements found in his previous album. This new album strikes me as an attempt on McMorrow’s part to stretch his musical legs, and unlike some other musical experiments, his is entirely successful.
Employing soaring electronic samples and rich piano and percussion, this is a far cry from the McMorrow we’ve previously heard, but these new elements only provide the proper forum for his talent. His tracks become more than mere amalgamations of words, notes and instruments; they are unified wholes that you don’t merely listen to but also experience.
In general, I find that I need to listen to an album a few times before I can come to an opinion on it. With “Post-Tropical,” however, all it took for me to fall in love was the first 30 seconds of “Cavalier,” and my love became ever more fervent when the unexpected bass tones of “Red Dust” flooded my headphones. The more I listened to other tracks like “Repeating” and “Outside, Digging,” the more I admired and respected McMorrow and his work on “Post Tropical.” It’s haunting and surprising in the most beautiful way.