Chet Faker: The Electric Soul Man

ChetFaker_PhotobyLisaFrieling_3Born Nicholas Murphy, Chet Faker is an Australian electronica artist who had his breakthrough after doing a mellow rendition of the Blackstreet classic ‘No Diggity’ which became a viral hit in 2011 and propelled him before the American music audience. In 2012, he released his debut EP Thinking in Textures followed by a collaborative venture with Flume called Lockjaw EP. His latest endeavour, debut album Built on Glass was admired by critics with David Jeffries of AllMusic calling it “a wonderful mood piece” and comparing Faker’s vocals to “as if Eddie Vedder were born a slow soul man”. Faker, whose stage name is homage to the 1950’s jazz musician Chet Baker, incorporates various elements into his music such as R&B, jazz, soul, hip-hop and funk. Featuring his signature swooning soulful vocals, here are 5 Chet Faker tracks to thaw frosted bones, and possibly, frosted hearts this February.


Come ye, angst, dejection and an early onset of nihilism! There is no point fighting it, we might as well surrender our sobriety and acknowledge our universal cardiological screw-uppedness. ‘Cigarettes & Loneliness’, an eight-minute composition that recounts the painful severance of a relationship, infuses the elements of indie pop and is musically distinctive from the loungy R&B discourses characteristic of Chet. It features a melodic assonant chorus and is overlaid by continuous brittle beats, but Chet’s voice never loses itself in the surrounding sound. Affirming his versatility as an artist, he is ever-present in the rise of momentum with pain being felt and remembered but never a moment of boredom. Bittersweet and attached with a sense of urgency, ‘Cigarettes & Loneliness’ might remind you of chasing after departing trains.


The first single from his debut album, Built on Glass, sees Chet Faker in familiar territory. Showcasing his trademark smooth and soulful vocals over sophisticated electronic instrumentation, there is nothing new about it. But what Faker does on this track is accentuate his style, carving his own niche in the electro-soul genre. ‘Talk Is Cheap’ is a trip hop number―by definition, a form of electronic experimental musicwith influences of soul, funk and jazz―treated to syncopated/broken beats and interestingly, a distinctive, impactful sax strain. An impressive chart performance, it was voted No. 1 on Triple J’s Hottest 100 of 2014 and has been a favourite among music audiences. It’s possible you would find yourself singing along Faker about his romantic endeavours in the middle of this one.


Flume_ChetFaker_byLisaFrielingOKAY, THIS IS BLOODY COOL. ‘Left Alone’ marks the beginning of further collaborations between rising electronic artist Harley Stretten a.k.a. Flume and the electronic soul man Chet Faker the results of which have been spectacularly good. (See: ‘Drop the Game’) Faker’s soulful vocals assume a grittier, edgier tone than previously seen in solo ventures, over Flume’s sharp and stylish production featuring staggering hip-hop beats and atmospheric trance-infused synth pads. A mid-tempo electro pop track, ‘Left Alone’ is receptively dark, moody and hypnotic―a state contributed to by echoing haunting background harmonies and Faker’s repetitive choral refrain. His impassive narration of self-inflicted isolation is a hardening affair and possibly an emo anthem―Cannot swallow blue found vow/ More than that my sleep is wild/ All I need is suffering bones/ Breathe in sorrow.


Perhaps there is not another song where Chet Faker’s silky and sensuous vocals are in their glorious element than in the down tempo dream wave melody, ‘I’m Into You’, from his debut EP, Thinking in Textures. Deeply emotive, the soulful crooner’s passion is unparalleled, complementing the lustful and deftly evasive lyrics―At night/ Twisted in a melting fall and sleeping with the scratching claws/ And your words/ Let me know you’re feeling me and seeing all the things I see. Laced with electronic ambience, the song is grounded in trip hop beats accompanied by lilting synth keys. Though reminiscent of modern R&B and hip-hop artist The Weeknd, Chet Faker brings originality to his music; incorporating retro influences like the 60’s soul element from his jazz moniker and, rooted in his own low-key demeanour as a musician, a certain shyness and modesty pushing the fine line between sexy and salacious at his convenience.


A surprisingly bubbling tune, ‘1998’ is reason to believe that Chet Faker has allowed himself to bedisposed to experimentation. We used to be friends/ We used to be inner circle/ I don’t understand/ What have I become to you―the chorus of ‘1998’, simple, delicate and brimming with wistfulness has a good hook. It mixes waves of synths andcomponents of house music to create a peppy electro number urging you to tap your feet and click your fingers in rhythm. A crowd pleaser, Faker performed ‘1998’ at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney, Australia before 15,000 people. He remarks on the song, “It’s a banger. It sticks out for everyone…Everyone likes a banger, that’s why I worked with Flume. I was hoping he’d write me a banger.”



By Mahima Verma


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