After starting life as a three piece, Major Murphy have expanded to a quartet, with Chad Houseman (guitar/keys/percussion), joining Jacob Bullard (vocals/guitar), Jacki Warren (bass/vocals) and Brian Voortman (drums) to bolster the band’s ranks. With their updated headcount, the Michigan outfit have created their sophomore LP ‘Access’, the follow on from their debut album ‘No.1’ and a duo of home recorded EPs.
Known for their jammed approach to making music, Major Murphy’s latest output maintains the fluidity of people in a room together working out sketches of ideas but with the anchoring of a body of work that has a deliberate mood and determined end destination.
Sonically, ‘Access’ dips its toe into a vast range of musical pools that all border rock’s lesser frequented outposts, including psyche, garage, grunge and folk, with a tiny embellishment of electronic nuances from time to time – ‘Attention’ being the key song, with its auto-0tuned flourishes. Combined with the sometimes, twinned harmonies of Bullard and Warren, Major Murphy’s second album is regularly bestowed with a calm, ethereal quality. This notion is maintained by the record’s overall themes, which according to the band’s press release, hinge on “parenting, accountability and building a sustainable artistic life”. Interestingly, for topics that sound humdrum on paper and, you might say, stressful, ‘Access’ carries a positive and at times, optimistic aesthetic. The record commences with its eponymous track, a mixture of chugging alt-rock and dreamy shoegaze, where both vocalists combine to coo “will you deliver me/I like your energy”. While ‘Unfazed’s jammed shimmer has Bullard calming state “I know that nothing is really impossible”. The reoccurring notion of being hardened for whatever life throws at you is solidified on the slow murmur of ‘Rainbow’ as the band’s lead vocalist reassures with “storms are going to rage/in a house that’s built for hurricanes”. ‘Access’ is concluded by the lullaby-esque ‘Blind’, where Major Murphy look skyward for slice of good luck; “making our dreams come true” purr Bullard and Warren, with a tinge of hope in their intonation, as banjos gently play out a delicate rhythm and light fuzzy guitar notes swirl.
While not overly remarkable nor unappealing, ‘Access’ is a pleasant collection of songs that offer a moment of calm in an otherwise chaotic world.