Saturday, 20 September 2014

Album Review - "Built On Glass" by Chet Faker

It’s a challenge to review an artist who openly shuns music critique. Chet Faker has often commented that music is a personal experience and while it’s worthwhile to compare opinions, it remains supremely subjective. Built on Glass is a work of complexity in itself and you can tell from the first listen that he’s invested much of himself in it (two years in the making, missed deadlines and scrapped tracks.) We make all the fun of Drake for letting out his sensitive side but Chet really masters the storytelling role.

It’s safe to say that Chet Faker captured our tender side with “I’m Into You.” A few years down the track, his next album follows with a slightly bitterer take on love. Instead of innocent questions [“Is that your hand resting on my knee?”] Built On Glass explores deeper thoughts [““How does one remove the thoughts that dig a deeper hole?”] The great thing is that while I’m sure his life experiences influenced the spirit of the album, most of us can admit to having these kinds of meditations.

Previously released singles “Talk is Cheap” and “Melt” stand their own ground, showcase Chet’s careful attention to detail and inherent groove that makes his music so attractive. But then they also slot in well with the other songs on the album, which meld into each other and complement the rich soul sound.

My favourite track is “Blush,” a track at just under five minutes, but one that feels like an eight-minute masterpiece. The music seems to move by itself and its an understated piece of work – even just adding hand clicks at the end of a track means that the song doesn’t have to end abruptly as an ipod skip. He even adds in short interlude tracks (including one track named “/”) to even out the mood, somewhere between heartbreak and freedom.

Among the tricky rhythms and hypnotic layering which blend in so smoothly, are dark lyrics: “peace can be evasive”. As the album progresses it seems to grow wiser but then again it’s also just a great listen for the music itself. Built on Glass draws attention to Chet’s vocals, which range from the low, low spoken voice almost whispering in your ear (“Melt”) to his raw, raspy cooing (“To Me.”) And when you add in the oozing saxophone and lush backing vocals, you suddenly get the urge to hug the person closest to you.

And if Built on Glass doesn’t blow you away – fair enough. A new album is a different experience for everyone. But as corny as it sounds, there’s something exciting about listening to new music which pushes boundaries and gets expressive. In his last track, ‘Dead Body’ Chet sings, “nobody grows for free” – and if you’re going to take anything away from this album, it’s that message.

Published on AdamNOTEve.

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