Reviews:: Murder Mystery Are You Ready for the Heartache Cause Here it Comes

I wasn't sure what to expect from Murder Mystery and even after several listens I'm not sure how to accurately describe their debut record, Are You Ready for the Heartache Cause Here it Comes. It's a unique, upbeat pop collection but the feeling I get from the record is even simpler than that description leads you to believe (mostly because the definition of what we call pop has changed).

They aren't throwing in soaring melodies, choral backing vocals and strings. Instead, they turn back the clocks. Jeremy's vocals - deep and nasally - are complimented by nice harmonies and lots of guitar noodles, all of which makes you think this record is a deep, hidden gem waiting to be unearthed. The thing is, I'm not sure if you need to do much digging. The single strum chords, pounding synth riff and creative fret work of the lead guitar on Who Doesn't Wanna Give Me Love?, shows how easily they can create a vintage pop song. They cap the song off with some great harmonies at just the right time, but I the whole time I get impression that the band is in this for the fun-ny, not the money.

They are from New York, and obviously enjoy some of the same influences as the Strokes (ie., Television), but there is a more light hearted feel to the whole experience. There is no point on the record where you actually think the band is concerned with anything other than making carefree ditties. Jeremy sings about being self-assured, and I think that being secure with his 60's front man persona helps him stick to his vision without thinking too much. There is a distinct Motown feel (lots of mention of baby), but somehow it is melded with doo-wap, surf friendly melodies, and the charm of Stephen Merritt. The result is quite enjoyable but something best not over analyzed.

The record, on its own, is a sugary explosion, but on a track by track analysis, it satisfies all your cravings. The pulsing synth line and guitar work on Love Astronaut is a perfect example. If it snuck up on me on my Ipod, I'd bounce along with a smile, but I'm not sure how often I'd throw on the complete record. I know that seems like a strange statement - I like the songs, but only in song form? - but the album seems to have been shipped from the 60's; a time where you put out two songs at a time and people played them to death - Side A, Side B, repeat.

As far as a debut record goes, they do all the right things. They keep the songs upbeat, peppy and short. Instead of hammering on a riff for way too long, they truncate the songs and make you want to hear the song again and again. You can't hear the ba, ba, bas and hand claps on the summery Baby, You Can Write Me a Letter and not get in a good mood. How many surf-rockers (think the Hi-Fives) have used the same recipe as What My Baby Said, but fall short and don't throw in killer falsettos? The bass line and nice walking guitar solo of Huggin' and the catchiness of Sooner Or Later are two highlights to help close the record.

I think what I like the most about Murder Mystery is that you can't help but feel nostalgic (or like your at that dance in Back to the Future) when you listen. As the opening notes of Honey Come Home start playing you are taken to another time - a time where life, and music was simpler. If you take every note at face value, like I think the band does, you'll find yourself tapping along with a smile and making you shuffle and smile is what Murder Mystery is all about.

NOTE:: It would be interesting to see how Jeremy and the band looks at their music, and what they try to accomplish. I might be completely off base and trivializing their whole process. Each note might be mulled over and the sound is something they've formulated after countless revisions to each song. It just seems they are more natural and more into just playing what makes them happy.

MP3:: Love Astronaut
MP3:: Honey Come Home

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