In his first outing without the chet faker moniker, Nick Murphy does everything right.
Missing Link is the first material from Australian singer-songwriter Nick Murphy to be issued under his given name, rather than the better known Chet Faker moniker.
After half a decade recording under the name, the New York-based 28 year old has decided to forego the pseudonyms this time around, citing his newfound confidence and desire to convey his eclectic mix of influences as openly and honestly as possible.
Having become something of a staple of the downtempo electronica scene under his previous guise, some may argue it was a risky move — but, if anything, the five stellar tracks of Missing Link are definitive proof that when one door closes, another opens.
Opener Your Time crawls its way out of the speakers with hazy, panning synths and gentle vocals, putting to rest any worries from fans that his trademark trip-hop leanings may have been abandoned this time round. With a lumbering, heavy beat juxtaposed with emotive vocals and a vaguely oppressive atmosphere, the song bears a resemblance to later-period Depeche Mode.
The brief, avant-garde interlude Bye follows with a bluesy acoustic guitar line that slowly finds itself enveloped by arcade game sirens; not a track you’d add to your summer playlists, perhaps, but in the context of the EP it’s an encouraging sign that Murphy will be unafraid to step back and experiment from time to time in the second phase of his career.
I’m Ready brings us back into familiar territory, albeit in noisy, chaotic fashion. Awash with bleeping synths and heavily processed, dissonant horn samples, it’s as if there’s a pop banger in there trying to escape from under the densely layered production, and it makes for an intriguing listen.
The EP’s standout, though, has to be the slinky, six-minute Forget About Me, which pushes Murphy’s soulful vocals to the front over a grinding, robotic keyboards and a forceful yet restrained beat; “I forget about me, I forget about you,” he repeats manically, as the music ebbs and flows underneath him. Closing number Weak Education, finally, brings the intensity levels back down for the remaining few minutes, featuring a springy beat and major-key synths that give the feeling of finally coming up for air.
With this EP, Murphy has put himself in the enviable position of being able to build on his previous material — and retaining his knack for pop hooks — while at the same time being unafraid to throw off the shackles of his earlier persona and push the boundaries of pop music when he sees fit. An artist’s first release under their own name is often a high-stakes game, but its easy to hear Missing Link as both the a recognition of everything that got him to this point, and a launch pad for everything to come in future.
Chet Faker is dead. Long live Nick Murphy.