mark mcguire stepped away from his role in the ambient electronic trio emeralds back in 2013 to focus on an even more experimental solo career. mcguire’s work under the moniker the road chief stretches back even further; it’s a dj handle he’s used since the late 2000’s, and it recently became attached to mcguire’s output of comparatively sunny, groove-driven electro-pop. seven of these tracks are packaged into all my love, an effervescent album to soundtrack the waning weeks of summer.
in both emeralds and his solo work, mcguire musical identity has been firmly rooted in the guitar; the instrument crops up here and there across all my love, but its role is secondary, riding comfortably in the backseat while the union of stuttering drums and a 1980’s-inspired synth palette powers the project. tracks like “summer eyes” and “always open” flutter around effortlessly in the breeze, punctuated by handfuls of complementing melodic ideas that ride atop fat bass lines and even-keeled drum beats, while “thinkin about you” absolutely brims with confidence, its assertive backbeat never wavering as it ushers in each new segment of the song.
mcguire adequately avoids prolonged frivolity by occasionally getting introspective. “is this really love?” anchors the album, and its slow build and gradual layering of nearly every synth tone in mcguire’s arsenal delivers a contrast to the runaway, feel-good effects established by his interpretation of electro-pop. similarly, “that night” functions well as the de facto come-down track on all my love, using its fleeting arpeggios and penultimate placement to foreshadow the majestic sweeps of the closing number, “so alone.”
all my love is a good summer driving record. whether you’re cruising rural county backroads in landlocked states or trekking up or down either coast in search of the ocean, the road chief will add aural cues to your visual memories. no one track demands greater attention than the others; instead, the components of all my love form a cohesive bond, yielding a product suitable to be heard on a continuous loop. give it a spin.