Nick Murphy has had a peculiar existence since bursting on to the scene as Chet Faker working alongside Flume with his moody indie pop winning over a huge alt audience, before a back-and-forth of moniker shifts lost a few along the way.
Returning to his Chet Faker project in October 2020, Murphy has released his first album since the switch titled Hotel Surrender which is a 10-track reminiscent of his 2014 debut Built On Glass.
The charm of Chet Faker always has been the mix of sway-inducing funky and bass laden tunes, combined with Murphy’s dry, effortless and perceptively unimpressed tone. The defiant lyrics and dry and brusque vocals of single ‘Whatever Tomorrow’ underline that.
Hotel Surrender offers plenty of that charm, albeit at a slow pace which arguably lets the album down. Some high points are the carefree ‘Get High’, uber cool ‘Whatever Tomorrow’, sexy and swaggy ‘Feel Good’ and under-rated sixth track ‘Peace Of Mind’.
Murphy wrote and produced Hotel Surrender himself (like with Built On Glass), with the bulk of the tracks completed prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, but before the also the passing of his father, delaying its release.
He described the next part of the process as “mass therapy”, with that catharsis translating to a loosening of inhibitions, particularly shown on ‘Get High’ where Murphy has used his own piano skills for the first time with what he calls “drunken funk swing”.
Recognising that cathartic impact lyrically is always subjective, and for an artist who has flip-flopped between alter-egos, it feels like there’s an uncertainty from within about identity and a deep desire to define that.
But Hotel Surrender feels like Chet. Whether that’s a dramatic enough departure from Built On Glass may draw some critical attention but for the devoted they will enjoy his latest offerings.
Murphy has artfully constructed a textured album and offered up a bit more of himself. But you do leave wanting a little something more.
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Chet Faker’s Hotel Surrender is out now.