The Murlocs, Loopholes – Album Review
Victoria’s surf-coast garage-gems The Murlocs have just polished off their debut longplayer, Loopholes. Chloe Mayne reviews the record and has a chat with the boys:
Loopholes has been a truly extended labour of love for the band, as most of the original recordings for the album were lost to the mire of a stolen laptop last year. As Ambrose Kenny-Smith (the group’s resident howler and foot-stomper) explains, “a couple of the guys got the message and went on a bit of a bender. It was bad timing, because everyone was busy with other stuff.”
However, he admits that the tracks may well have benefited from the reworking. “We came back to it after a few months,” he says. “And by the time we did, it almost worked out for the better because we rearranged some songs, improved them in ways… There was one in particular that we changed the whole chorus of, for example.”
At just over half an hour, Loopholes is a floating bubble of a record, with the soaring yet delicate swoop of an albatross. It’s a gutsy, braying body of energy that continues to unfurl its wings upon multiple listens. I know this because I’ve been sitting on the record for a couple of weeks now, like a roosting musical hen, letting its wobbly tendrils work their way in and around my cochleas. The number of times I’ve listened to it can no longer be counted on a single set of bodily digits. I tell Ambrose this, emphatically. “Ah, that’s a relief,” he laughs. “We’re all kind of sick of it… I personally don’t think I want to listen to the record again for awhile, I’ve heard the songs in so many different shapes and forms. It’s a bit of an OCD thing.”
Loopholes opens with ‘Control Freak’, a strutting number that gently pulls your shoulders into a swing. Ambrose’s vocals are striking and immediately distinctive, as always – a growling wail, at quivering pitch. It’s this voice, and a good drenching of blooming, bleating harmonica, that pastes The Murlocs into your memory with a glue that’s difficult to shake.
‘Paranoid Joy’ (the album’s first single) sways along, arms brushing its sides, timed gently and neatly off-kilter. ‘Lonely Clown’, perhaps the most down-tempo track of the album, is a great composition. It feels like a lament, swooping over glittering lakes and then folding into itself.
One of the album highlights is undoubtedly ‘Space Cadet’, which has become a staple of all my hula hooping/sunny afternoon/Sunday boogie playlists. ‘Serial Imposter’ is dark and sprawling, a dripping cavern of otherwordly splendour.
Loopholes is a true delight of a record, and will be available for your hungry ears to feast on from April 17, via Flightless/Remote Control Records. And, there’s more – the boys are embarking on a three-date Australian tour in order to celebrate its release. It’ll be a travelling troupe of an adventure with numerous musical friends jumping on board for the ride, including the wonderfully blonde-bobbed razzle-pop of The Babe Rainbow, the decade-shifting garage goodness of the Frowning Clouds, Teeth & Tongue, Junkyard Diamonds and more.
April 17 – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane QLD, w/ Babe Rainbow & Junkyard Diamonds
April 19 – Factory Floor, Sydney NSW, w/ Spirit Valley & The Friendsters
April 25 – Howler, Melbourne VIC, w/ Teeth & Tongue, The Frowning Clouds + More
The Murlocs review and interview by Chloe Mayne.