James Yuill - Movement In A Storm (Moshi Moshi)

Yuill raised the bar with his debut record, but is it a case of second album syndrome for the English folkster?

Released Jun 21st, 2010 via Moshi Moshi / By Rob Evans
James Yuill - Movement In A Storm (Moshi Moshi) When it came out in October 2008, the songs on Turning Down Water For Air, James Yuill’s first full length, were already a year old. Movement In A Storm, on the other hand, is stuffed with songs so shiny and fresh that you catch the first whiff of new-synth smell the moment you hit play. Yuill’s second effort has certainly gone further towards the ‘-tronica’ side of folktronica (yes, it’s a stupid name, but it’s a thing that exists and we all have to deal with it), but is it for better or worse?

Yuill’s shtick is simple enough to work wonders: bouncy electronic beats combine with warm acoustic plucking and his deadpan delivery. Unfortunately, though, with the roles reversed and the guitar now backing the beats instead of the other way round, much of that warmth is gone. The heavier emphasis on the electronics also causes them to stutter a little in the limelight, with a few cheesy 80s tones grating on the ears a little. ‘My Fears’ is probably the strongest representation of Yuill’s new direction, stuttering and fizzing away as his voice floats airily above the pulsing beats.

The acoustic moments are still there, but whilst ‘No Surprises’ on ...Water For Air felt like Yuill finally letting loose with the other side of his musical personality, tracks like ‘Wild Goose At Night’ or ‘Foreign Shore’ on Movement feel more like token additions to appease old habits or fans. ‘Ray Gun’ is among the songs closest to the dynamic of the previous album, but this time round things are far less remarkable now they’ve been tried and tested. With old ideas feeling a little stale and new ideas not having quite the same spark, this is a rare case of second album syndrome actually being a valid criticism rather than something that explains away a non-mainstream friendly change of direction, and one can only hope that this is merely an awkward transition rather than any kind of new beginning or final progression.

This may seem harsh on what is still a very enjoyable album of lovingly crafted electropop, but Yuill set himself a high standard with Turning Down Water For Air. Yuill has shown the depth of his talents already, not only through his first album but also through his accomplished remix work, and whilst this is an effort that would earn a new artist a much more favourable review, James Yuill is still capable of better.