Album Reviews - The Thin Air

James Vincent McMorrow – True Care


Just nine months ago James Vincent McMorrow released his third studio album, We Move to widespread acclaim. Still revelling in the success of the record and with a slew of live dates keeping him busy for the foreseeable future, McMorrow has dropped his latest offering much to the surprise of everyone bar himself. True Care is an album created in just five months which has been released in a suitably hasty manner with JVM citing a discomfort with the typically grandiose release cycles in modern music as his motive to do so. With this in mind, there seems to be a sense of danger to True Care, a sense that perhaps some stones were left unturned in its creation. This however only adds to the beauty of what can only be described as a remarkable record.

The album’s opening track, ‘December 2914’ creates a dystopia where McMorrow is able to be introspective in a way unimaginable to his present self. Beginning with a soulful yet melancholic refrain and transitioning into an avant-garde instrumental section, the track sets the tone for the album’s experimental aspirations while showcasing his inherent ability to create outstanding pop music. With McMorrow foregoing the usual spitshine we’re accustomed to in modern music, he runs the risk of failing to grab the attention of potential listeners. Thankfully this is not the case as ‘Thank You’, ‘Glad It’s Raining’ and the title track which are all laden with enough hooks to go toe to toe with the catchiest of earworms.

‘National’ is a soulful piano ballad that provides a beautifully honest insight into McMorrow’s insecurities and aspirations pitting lines like “I know on paper I seem appealing, That’s misleading” and “So live with me, won’t you? Dreams, they could come true” against each other. The song, inspired by the band of the same name is a rare moment away from the electronic textures which have become synonymous with the artist’s style.   

JVM channels his inner James Blake on tracks like ‘Constellations’ and ‘Change of Heart’ where his collection of delectable synthesisers are put to excellent use in creating some of the albums more serene soundscapes. The powerful chorus of ’Bend Your Knees’ is one of the stand out moments of the record. However, the apex of True Care is in the culmination of tracks, ‘Bears’ and ‘Pink Salt Lake’. The glitchy percussion on the former is reminiscent of Radiohead’s ‘Videotape’ as it builds to a triumphant yet eerie climax.‘Pink Salt Lake’ continues in the same vein casting a shadow of foreboding vocal samples singing “Time is Inevitable” across a dour chord progression delicately played on the piano.

For an album claiming to consist of “lots of one takes and no click tracks”, listeners would be hard pressed to find anything out of place. Perhaps the only disappointing thing about True Care is it’s ending. ‘Don’t Wait Forever’ feels underdeveloped as it’s drum machine pattern peters out. ‘Outro’ along with the album’s two interludes is texturally interesting but ultimately provides very little to excite the listener. It feels anticlimactic for an album so emotionally powerful throughout to end with two tracks that fail to capture the essence of what True Care embodies, a sense of vulnerability at odds with hope. Hugh O’Dwyer