Glass brings much-appreciated transparency, but also requires fragility, as iPhone users understand all too well. Chet Faker’s debut album Built On Glass fruitfully allows listeners to partake in an emotional and moody experience focused on relationships. But does the delicate experience shatter or endure?
As “Release Your Problems” begins, Faker establishes the mood of his newest project. A soulful, sulky set of songs awaits the listener, and genuine vocal endowment illuminates how singer Nick Murphy could have chosen a much more applicable stage name than “Faker.”
When “No Advice – Airport Version” comes around, the orderly nature of Built On Glass becomes clear. It flows from track to track with purpose in order to portray a continuing mindset of emotions.
Almost halfway through the effort, listeners encounter the first noticeable blemish, as “To Me” does not offer nearly as much power as the tracks preceding it. Aside from marginally verging on repetition prior to it, Faker apparently reaches this point in his album when he must switch up the style or risk making mediocre songs, or worse.
In comes the crackly suggestions of a wise, old man in the “/” transitional track, leading to a switch-up in the flow of the album. He speaks of “the other side of the record,” where the audience should “relax still more, and drift a little deeper as you listen.” And so deeper in we go.
For better or worse, Built On Glass dives into the realm of experimental rhythms and productions, shifting focus from Faker’s brilliant voice to its diverse applicability, as well as the ability to withhold it altogether. The second half emphasizes areas that Faker wishes to explore sonically.
This makes the second half more interesting, but also introduces a bit of instability. A quicker “1998” puts his vocals in a funkier setting, but its length could potentially wear listeners out.
“Cigarettes and Loneliness” moves from a simple stream-of-consciousness style of singing to a well-harmonized chorus. Picture Faker sitting alone outside of Lower dining hall, smoking his cigarette and sporadically singing to himself before finally gathering his thoughts and moving on to a well-received refrain. This process, however, seems too drawn out for its own good, approaching a whopping eight minutes long.
After waiting through the long “Lesson in Patience,” listeners might just learn that they have the ability to wait through a somewhat uneventful song that focuses more on ambiance than anything else. More likely, however, they will arrive at the conclusion that patience is not their strong suit.
The album finishes strong with “Dead Body,” a culmination of the many intense feelings put forth by an emotionally damaged singer. Guitar notes calmly show listeners off of the premises, out of the glass estate they initially entered.
Built On Glass does not reside in flawlessness, but it does provide an emotional, and often durable, experience. This glassy record has infrequent cracks left by occasionally boring moments and some questionable smudges left by Faker’s experimental fingerprints, but overall it stands strong as a testament to the musician’s skill in vocals and atmosphere.