Search The Line of Best Fit
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"Living With Yourself"

Mark McGuire – Living With Yourself
27 September 2010, 10:00 Written by Adrian Mules

2010 has been a pretty good year for Mark McGuire. His band, Emeralds, finally seem to be moving towards getting the recognition they richly deserve and he is also releasing his first “real” album. Fans of his work may disagree as they glance at piles of limited run CD-R’s and cassettes adorning their shelves. But in the eyes of McGuire this is his first full-length straight-to-vinyl & CD album. But as nice as it would be to start this review from year zero, Living With Yourself’s relation to his previous work is pivotal in defining the context and shift in approach that this album heralds.

The record itself is themed around family and friends and within minutes it’s apparent that this is his most relaxed and open piece of work thus far. Maybe it’s the subject matter that affords such security. But whereas on previous recordings layers of guitar were piled upon one another and heaped in delay and echo, these effects are used far more sparingly. Like a mask that shielded the real Mark from the world these sonic barriers have also been deconstructed to allow individual notes and melodies to hang in the air without the need to be pulled into a vortex of sonic trickery. That isn’t to say that the effects pedals are stuffed in a bin bag somewhere, but their reduced frequency actually means that when his foot hits the floor the shockwaves that are unleashed are far more devastating.

Interspersed between the songs are taped recordings from Mark’s childhood. Conversations with his mother, father and brother settle the album into a safe and homely setting from the outset and bleed in and out of recordings, grounding the album and offering poignant reminders as to the album’s muse of close relationships.

By stripping things back the simplicity and apparent relief at acceptance after stepping out from behind the curtain leads to moments of unbridled joy. ‘Brothers (For Matt)’ builds from a backdrop of cherished family recordings into a euphoric outpouring of optimism that ascends into to a powerful and uplifting crescendo providing a momentous full stop to proceedings.

The decision to set a course for Evergreen Terrace rather than the far side of the universe is a bold one both musically and personally. But it’s one that has certainly paid off. If you weren’t aware of his previous work this should convince you of his incredible talents; existing fans will also find plenty to love here as all these pieces build upon foundations laid in the past rather than tear them down.

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