Album Review: Chet Faker – Built on Glass

By Joseph Esmaquel, guest writer

built_on_glassPseudonymous Australian electronic artist Chet Faker (real name, Nicholas James Murphy) roots from the city of Melbourne, Australia. In 2012, he was signed to Downtown Records in the US and released his first EP Thinking in Textures and later that year in October won “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” and his EP won “Best Independent Single/EP” at the Australian Independent Record Awards. His pseudonym is in homage to Chet Baker, whom he claims to be one of his musical influences, along with Bob Dylan, his mother’s Motown albums and his father’s “chilled out Ibiza CDs”. He has worked alongside fellow Australian electronic artist Flume, whom he has released a collaborative EP with, titled Lockjaw. Faker’s debut studio album, Built on Glass was released on April 11, 2014.

The album commences with the smooth and mellow track Release Your Problems, reminiscent of music played in the background at cafés and lounges made to soothe and unwind your mood. Faker’s soft and tender voice complements the heavy bass and the hip-hope-esque beat. The album then moves onto the following track Talk is Cheap, the lead single of the album. Its catchy beat and again, Faker’s silky, fluid voice captures the audience and grabs their attention to get them moving to the slow, yet alluring beat.

Lines throughout the album such as, “A heart will swell before it’s hardened, with the flick of a hair it can make you old.” and “When you look straight ahead and you wish you were dead, now, are you givin’?” pull at the listener’s heartstrings and cause them to be so beautifully in touch with their emotions. The first half of the album is a more delicate and soothing sounding record, utilising elements of electronica, hip-hop and jazz. The interlude and seventh track of the album, “/” features the sound of a vinyl crack and an aged voice with a Southern accent, uttering, “This is the other side of the record. Now, relax still more and drift a little deeper as you listen.”

Contrary to the spoken message, the latter half of the album tends to be slightly more upbeat than the former, although still maintaining elements of the aforementioned genres and also demonstrating elements of alternative rock, especially within the last two tracks. Tracks from the first half of the album such as Melt (guest artist, Kilo Kish) bear more deep and unfriendly melodies whereas tracks such as Cigarettes & Loneliness sound more optimistic and major in comparison. Throughout the record, there is consistent use of special effects, harmonic backup vocals, synthesisers and real-life instruments such as saxophones, keys, and electric guitars; however, it still retains a pure and authentic sound. The final track of the record, Dead Body seems to use most of the aspects of the album, making it a great track to finish off the record with.

Overall, the record is an excellent effort, especially that of a debut album. It holds a unique sound that evidently pulls influences from various genres such as hip-hop, R&B, electronica, jazz, and even indie music. Chet Faker’s gentle, velvety voice works with his use of heavy beats and work in accordance with each other. The album bears a broad, yet distinct sound which listeners of Flume, Disclosure, the xx and listeners alike will definitely enjoy. 7.5/10.

Check out Chet Faker’s website to stay updated with music and tour news.