Sunday, September 9, 2007

straight reppin' agatha christie

wielding a solid gold endorsement from stuart murdoch on a myspace page is a good way to get attention, especially when your music consists of articulate and endearing harmonies sung over crisp and focused guitar lines. nyc quartet murder mystery, however, isn't really interested in duplicating belle & sebastian's neo-folk charms eschewing winsome songs about young men with obscure sexual devices or recent catchers for the new york mets; instead, they write slick guitar pop anchored in a sound developed long before there was "neo-" anything. having already attracted a good deal of attention with their impressively titled debut album, are you ready for the heartache cause here it comes, murder mystery is getting ready to woo the world.

the four-piece is fronted by jeremy coleman (his sister laura hits the sticks), whose axe-wielding skills are apparent from the first riff of album opener "who doesn't want to give me love?" indeed, murder mystery's melodies are their greatest asset, borrowing heavily from television's model of subtle virtuosity and battling guitars in order to craft three-minute pop gems. already accumulating accolades from an array of critics, are you ready clocks in at just a tad over thirty minutes, twelve tracks deep, with flair to spare.

despite its ungainly title, are you ready for the heartache cause here it comes is a tight piece of work. coleman's lyrics tend to err on dime-a-dozen side, but you wouldn't bother writing home about his deadpan delivery anyway. where the band really shines is in their melodies. on "think of me," one of the album's finest tracks, murder mystery adopts a rockabilly feel, aiming for the jugular with a mid-song solo that invites the listener to imagine coleman hotdogging it across the stage to a roar of applause. "love astronaut," another standout cut, unique (on the album) for its use of a synthy new wave loop, is nonetheless firmly in the murder mystery mold with pointed guitars and a necessary measure of cutesy key changes. are you ready for the heartache cause here it comes is surprisingly multi-faceted, showing a great willingness to assimilate the best features of a variety of styles. while primarily grounded in their skillful interweaving of guitar lines, murder mystery is no one-trick pony. blending myriad approaches while maintaining their overarching commitment to pop, are you ready for the heartache cause here it comes is a solid debut album - not genre-busting or revolutionary, but satisfying nonetheless.

murder mystery - "think of me," "love astronaut."

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