Track-by-Track Review: Nick Murphy – Missing Link

Nick Murphy shakes off his brooding, soulful alter ego in this surprise EP, boldly setting out shop “to bridge the sonic chasm” between Chet Faker and Nick Murphy – the former, he confesses, was borne of the question “what do I think is cool?”. He replaces Chet’s sexy, mellow beats with unexpected intensity and less abstract, more sincere lyrics. The EP stands alone comfortably – Murphy once again proves his unwillingness to conform to one sound. It’s neither as melancholy or reflective as parts of ‘Built on Glass’, nor will it make you want to take your clothes off like ‘Thinking In Textures’. It’s clear that he has begun answering the question: “what do I like?”.

Your Time
A mysterious, swelling opening with familiar low-pitched vocals give way to huge snare and bass. It’s difficult not to picture Murphy emerging from backstage to a sold-out crowd; surely a show opener for his upcoming tour, ‘Your Time’ sways with all the attitude you’d expect, but is wholly larger than anything Murphy has previously released.

Best lyric: “You’re the only reason that I made it here tonight”

Bye
This lyricless track starts out with heavy effects on a tinny guitar and hits us with a wave of synth. A perfect linker from the brash ‘Your Time’ to the next softer, more reflective track.

Think: Arcade driving game hype music, with 10x the complexity

I’m Ready
Grating screeches are cut short by the familiar sound of deep bass, punctuated by what sounds like R2-D2 at a rave (in the best possible way).

Murphy leads us by the hand out of the maze of the chorus, wrapping his own (admittedly impressive) falsetto in an enchanting array of effects. We emerge with pure phrases of clean guitar, the robotic monologue creeping back in behind snares in a crescendo to the chorus, only a steel drum away from Jamie XX.

This is by far the most musically impressive track on this EP, and Murphy sets expectations high for what is to come in his new era.

Listen out for: the Prodigy-esque ‘Firestarter’ screeches at the start

Forget About Me
A haunting, tinny, latin chorist introduces this song with dock bells, followed by violins preceding Murphy’s high-tempo exit from the airy choruses of “I’m Ready”.

The track ends in a mind-spinning cry from the vocalist lasting over a minute hidden beneath high-pitched synth, almost representing himself being dragged from Chet, to Nick.

Best lyric: “Save up and wake up by yourself, to be honest I know you”

Weak Education
Brass is back: the track opens with a sample of a wistful trumpeter, the familiar crackle of vinyl static over the top. This is followed by an electronic foray, parts of which wouldn’t be out of place at a deep house club night. That said, he maintains interest by striking the delicate balance between trance-like repeats and bass licks, varying vocals and a finger-numbing solo in the latter half which all give this final recording an intrigue.

Imagine: Murphy banging on the keyboard in the build up preceding 3½ minutes.

This EP was always going to provide the unexpected. Murphy has turned a corner, rising from the ashes of Chet Faker, leaving us pining for more as the EP concludes. Funny how you can bridge a “sonic chasm” in 23 minutes. Surely (hopefully?) this record will precede an album following a string of North American and European dates this Autumn.

ISEESOUND.

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