Major Murphy No. 1

Major Murphy No. 1
8
Grand Rapids, MI's Major Murphy gracefully make the shift from home recording to professional studio on their debut full-length, No.1, upping the fidelity of their amiable, jangly rock without sacrificing the communal warmth of their live-off-the-floor tendencies. It may not offer anything strikingly new stylistically, but its well-written songs and effortless, laid-back charms more than make up for it.
 
This is an album of good old-fashioned radio-rock, full of extended, intricate vocal harmonies and tight, but casual-sounding  instrumentation. While classic rock figures like Tom Petty can perhaps be felt in the deepest depths here, Major Murphy have clearly absorbed later alternative and indie rock tendencies as well, with hints of Stephen Malkmus heard in the snaking guitar lines, and the earnest, plaintive vocals sometimes recalling Nada Surf.  Standout track "One Day" is also clearly moving within the boundaries of that recent generic constellation of older sounds: yacht rock. Other highlights include the impossibly delicate vocal/guitar interplay of "Mary," and the noisy, confident strut of "Radi-Yum" which immediately follows — a tonal shift Major Murphy make with ease throughout the album.
 
There's a real sense of mutual communication between the band that runs throughout No. 1, lending their playing a well-worn coherence that dovetails nicely with their familiar, tried-and-true sound. That sound isn't exactly groundbreaking, but the removal of that expectation allows No. 1 to shine as a sum of its own parts: a soothing, well-crafted pop-rock album by a band that know each other well. Hopefully No. 2. brings more of the same. (Winspear)