Reno McCarthy is a talented young man. He can't even legally buy a beer in the US but has managed to create a very impressive EP entitled Components of a Happy Life in which he not only plays every instrument (guitar, bass, vocals, drums, etc.) but also recorded, mixed and mastered the project. The EP sounds great. A nice low end, vocals are front and center, guitars have a nice mid range and there is also a lot of space. McCarthy dips into a number of genres including classic rock, electro rock, funk and disco but they never sound too far removed from each other. Above all else the songs are finely tuned, have a hook and are instantly accessible.
Components of a Happy Life begins with the immediately infectious “Please,” which is a fun way to start off the album. McCarthy delivers a Spoon-esque type verse with just bass, drums and vocals before adding guitars with a slight distortion, nothing too heavy. McCarthy also works it when it comes to nuances. For instance, the chorus has a couple of electronic elements that he incorporated that are subtle but very effective in adding some additional depth to the music.
McCarthy starts to expand his palate with “Let Her Come To You,” which rocks out much more than the first but also contains a very inventive bass line during the verse that contrasts against the just as inventive guitar part. This is also the song where McCarthy decides to flex his muscles a bit. He pulls out a guitar solo that shreds, if however brief, as well as a deep, funky and very welcome breakdown.
“You Become The Fire” begins with Pink Floyd type ambience of scattered notes before dissipating and leaving a sole guitar and McCarthy’s voice as he sings “Calling out a name as the situation burns you resist and you become the fire. Here a bitter guy who is fully recognized by the crowd.” As the song progresses it picks up some steam with the addition of bass and drums.
The highlight of the album was “Still” possibly because I'm still not over the funk Daft Punk dropped last year. “Still” is a very catchy song that tips its hat not only to Daft Punk but to Franz Ferdinand. The chorus is money and I would make the suggestion that this be his single from the album.
The album closes with “Sweet Chamomile,” which is the most ambitious song on the album and is a good way to end the journey. It’s a bit nostalgic but not overly so and continues with the upbeat vibes.
McCarthy has a bright future and the world is his oyster. There is not much doubt in my mind that we will be hearing much more from this young talent.
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