Wednesday, April 05, 2006

CD of the Day, 4/5/06: Chris Murphy-Elbow Room

Elbow Room is the solo debut for Australian Chris Murphy (I specify Australian, lest anyone think it's Sloan's Chris Murphy gone solo. Actually, I'd love for all four of the guys in Sloan to release solo albums - maybe even on the same day, a la Kiss. But I digress.) Anyway, this Murphy has been the frontman of Murphy's Lore, a fine Australian power pop band which put out a pretty good album last year (The Universe Conspires). And Elbow Room sounds like the type of album you'd expect to hear from a lead singer gone solo: more poppy, a bit less harder-edged, etc.

In fact, Elbow Room sounds like it could have come out in mid-80s: it's the kind of slick pop that wasn't quite MOR, but wasn't exactly AOR either, kind of the power balladry of songs like Cheap Trick's "The Flame", or some of the John Waite and Steve Perry solo material. Normally, this type of stuff isn't my favorite subgenre, but when it's really well done, it's absolutely worthwhile. And Elbow Room does it really, really well. The leadoff track, "Movie Star Beautiful", is a great example. It's the type of song that could be a big, big, contemporary hit (not unlike James Blunt's "Beautfiul") if it got the right airplay or showed up in the right movie or hit TV show. "Bigger They Are Harder They Fall" and "You Take Me to Heaven" follow the same formula, and song after song on this disc has the big hooks that will stick with you days later. Murphy does mix things up a bit: on his site, he compares "Electric Chair" to Jellyfish, and it does have the XTC meets Queen music hall jauntiness to it.

The best place to dive right in is at his myspace page, where you can stream all four songs I mentioned above. Sample the rest at the cd baby page for the album, and pick it up there or at your favorite power pop online retailer. For all of you guys out there reading this (and I'm guessing demographically that's about 90-95% of you), this is one your wife/girlfriend/significant other will probably like as well.

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