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New Music: Chet Faker – Built on Glass

Chet-Faker

Chet FakerBuilt on Glass //

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Talk Is Cheap”
“Melt” feat. Kilo Kish
“Gold”

Album Highlights: Nicholas James Murphy, aka Chet Faker, broke onto the scene in 2011 when his cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” went viral, reaching No. 1 on the Hype Machine charts almost a year before the release of his initial EP Thinking in Textures. Since then, the 24-year-old Australian singer, songwriter and producer has worked with fellow countryman Flume — putting out their collaborative, three-song EP Lockjaw late last year — as well as dream pop duo Say Lou Lou. Thus, it should come as no surprise that there has been plenty of anticipation surrounding his full-length debut Built on Glass on Downtown Records/Future Classic.

More importantly, though, the 12-track record has all the makings for it to be considered one of this year’s best. Minimal, yet soulful, it opens with “Release Your Problems” as the Melbourne native croons about relationship heartache with lines like “I will never know / no good mind / won’t take my / I should see the break in your way / release your problems.” The song, although only a little more than three minutes in length, sets the tone for the rest of the album, which boasts hit single “Talk Is Cheap” and “Melt” — the latter featuring New York vocalist and model/actress Kilo Kish. On the ensuing “Gold,” meanwhile, Faker takes things up an octave to tell us “You gotta know / I’m feeling love / Made of gold / I’ll never love her,” pairing a simple quarter-note chord progression on his keyboard with a groove-oriented bass line to create absolute sonic gold (pun intended). It’s in these instances where Murphy channels his inner Chet Baker, meshing old-school jazz and R&B melodies with his production expertise, that make him one of the most intriguing artists to watch in 2014.

Album Lowlight: The lowlights are few and far between here, in part because Murphy varies his sound just enough that every song retains its own uniqueness. While music fans in search of an upbeat album may not find what they’re looking for on Built on Glass, that shouldn’t take away from what Faker has assembled for his first LP over the past two years. Recording on a limited budget with lo-fi equipment, Murphy not only reveals a sensitive side when it comes to addressing his subject matter, but also an appreciation for the many soul and jazz legends that came before him.

Takeaway: If you haven’t heard the name “Chet Faker” until now, you will be hearing a lot more about him quite soon. There’s a reason why he won “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” and “Best Independent Release” in his homeland a couple of years ago, after all. Built on Glass may not end quite as strong as how it starts, but that doesn’t mean tracks like “Blush” and “1998” are total throwaways. If anything, Faker shows that he’s more than capable of changing tempos while still achieving similar results. So, with Murphy’s first full-length album now finally out, it may only be a matter of time before we hear him storming the U.S. airwaves.

~Josh Herwitt


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