This debut LP from Chet Faker – the punning pseudonym of Australian producer/songwriter Nicholas James Murphy – doesn't so much arrive in record stores as slink into them with a bottle of Cristal in one hand and a pack of Durex in the other.
It’s a slickly produced album of late-night electronic soul grooves, with Murphy’s smouldering vocals front and centre. ‘Melt’ comes on like a Nightmares On Wax cut from 2002, with its bouncy synth line and lush cameo from Kilo Kish. ‘Cigarettes & Loneliness’, meanwhile recalls The Postal Service with its brittle beat. The album is funky and sexy and chilled, while also pleasingly free of braggadocio.
Indeed, the record’s most interesting moments are when Murphy lets us in on his troubles. The acoustic strum of ‘To Me’ is the most desolate, heartbroken track on here, and better for its mood. Unfortunately, it’s also something of a rarity.
There are no bad songs here, and most have something sonically interesting going on – the wistful, treated saxophone at the start of ‘Talk Is Cheap’ (video below) or the discordant flute on ‘Melt’, for example. But while Murphy has an undeniably good soul voice, it doesn’t always feel like he’s fully emotionally engaged. Without that grit, the music occasionally veers towards coffee shop jazz territory.
It’s a decent first album all the same, and Faker’s an intriguing artist. There are enough moments of musical eclecticism here to suggest that ‘Built On Glass’ is his solid starting point, rather than a definitive statement.
Words: Will Salmon
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