For her debut full-lengther, Amelia Murray (aka Fazerdaze) build something of a sunny patio to extend the view of her bedsit pop. Bask in the reverb-drenched guitar textures and little pokes and prods from keyboard lines. It’s a simple – limited – palette. But it’s everything you need. It’s instantly recognisable, familiar – never quite so ‘grungy’ but determinedly a throwback to some of the alt-pop stylings of the 1990s. Made fresh, perhaps by the fact that our writer and singer is too young to be trapped in 90s nostalgia, arriving at it by design as much as anything.
So when Lucky Girl’s guitar chimes in around the vocal and hints at being borrowed from The Phoenix Foundation you realise it could too have come from so many other sources; just as the Phoenix lads quite possibly purloined it from Johnny Marr – the eternal source.
Where things do get (slightly) grungy is with Misread which reminds of Amps-era Kim Deal in the cooed bvs and the pull-and-chug of the guitars.
Little Uneasy has something Bats-y about it, and hints at the Flying Nun sound of the 1990s.
Jennifer, revived from the earlier EP, has that gauzy, spectral sound of Melody’s Echo Chamber – the quaint, 60s-chanteuse-pop throwback feel and then to another great Flying Nun-sounding trope on Take It Slow (hints of the recently reissued Garageland and even Fur Patrol). We’re pulled in, with every song, to a subtle warmth in the music which cleverly belies the emotionally cautious tone in many of the lyrics.
The music on Morningside is cleverly crafted, aware, accessible – it drifts into place, it brings with it a little haunt of familiarity and just when you think you’ve heard another nice-but-same-same feel (Shoulders) the gears shift (with a heavy grind, an intentional graunch) and we’re lifted into full-rocker mode (Friends).
I can’t escape the thinking that much of Morningside plays out like a Madame Tussauds version of the music I was listening to in the 1990s. But that’s okay. I don’t actually want to escape that. I’ve been walking the dog along the beach with this music in my ears (most times I’ve even been playing it at the time). And its making its way toward my heart, it’s finding a path to my soul. All seems right in the world when this is on. A little light. A lot of love. Plenty of heart.