The album cover is a montage of photographs presumably drawn from that same period, and the record's titles are often allusions to the people closest to him. But, shrewdly, McGuire's samples never feel cloying, nor do they pierce his guitar's careful moodsetting; he's cautious never to allow these very personal clips to foreground against the wistful music surrounding them.
Though best known as the guitarist for Cleveland nu-kosmische trio Emeralds, McGuire's assembled a pretty wide body of work for a 23 year old; he's performed as Skyramps, Sun Watcher and People's Parties, as well as issuing strong albums under his own name on labels like Wagon and High Spirit (two excellent but out-of-print cassettes, Tidings and Amethyst Waves, were collected and reissued on Weird Forest earlier this year). Living with Yourself—his debut for eMego, also a home to Emeralds—feels like his most satisfying and consistent material to date, one that mirrors the growth found in Emeralds with Does It Look Like I'm Here? earlier this year.
Putting aside the more literal story told via its tapes and title, Living with Yourself is also bound by a consistent sonic arc that finds McGuire shearing some of the more experimental elements of his work and focusing on what are really, perhaps for the first time in his solo career, very clearly "songs" more than sun-dazed wanderings. "The Vast Structure of Recollection," introduced by one of the record's tape samples, coasts along soft acoustic guitar strumming that gradually grows more entwined and increasingly propulsive before the guitar is covered in snowy electronic dissonance.
With their interlaced guitars and cloudy drones, both "Clouds Rolling In" and "Moving Apart" recall the space-rock ascent of Manual Gottsching's Blackouts, while "Brain Storm (for Erin)" is quieter and more spacious initially, until its quiet drift is punctured by a noisy burst. Beneath its dim, swaying guitar, "Clear the Cobwebs" exudes first morning light calm, only to erupt into McGuire's poppiest (and one of his loudest) creations to date in the punky snarl of closer "Brothers (For Matt)." It's a surprisingly stormy moment on an album intent on capturing the warmth of its histories, the fond glow of memory. But this sudden blast of sound also feels notably celebratory, and it's a fitting finish to another standout in what's been an excellent year both for McGuire and for eMego.