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Chet Faker’s debut is mostly the real thing

Chet Faker’s debut album, Built On Glass, starts with some lounge-level organ, lightly touched, as if it’s preparing for Michael McDonald to walk in, but the sound is quickly usurped by an electronic rush and Faker’s voice, which carefully skirts cheesiness and real soul. “Release Your Problems” is probably the wrong way to introduce Built On Glass, because it’s the closest that the album comes to that line, with the Australian stretching his believability close to a tipping point. Most people will probably have begun elsewhere anyway, either with Faker’s cover of “No Diggity” (which soundtracked a beer commercial last year but isn’t on the album) or the currently buzzing single “Talk Is Cheap,” which better blends his passion for soulful singing and digestible, occasionally daring electronics.


When Faker—real name Nicholas Murphy—gets a little weirder, Built On Glass is strongest: He front-loaded the record with the most accessible tracks (“Talk Is Cheap,” “Melt”), and saved the best for later. “To Me” doesn’t reach as hard for the rafters, and ends up sounding like Broken Social Scene, or maybe Andrew Bird at his slinkiest. Twenty years ago, “Blush” would have been labeled trip-hop and filed somewhere near Portishead; and “1998” sounds a bit more like 1983—it draws from the same well that LCD Soundsystem does.

It’s all a bit scattered, but mostly in really ingratiating ways: If you don’t like soulful vocals with minimal accompaniment, wait a minute and an 8-minute, krautrock-inspired chugger will show up to take its place. That doesn’t make for the most consistent listening experience—it’s sometimes hard to tell who Faker wants to be, which is funny considering his name—but it’s massively enjoyable in bits and pieces.

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