Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
There's a comely aspect to all of the retrospective grooming that New York band Murder Mystery throws - in their own way - onto what they do. There's a brain freeze that happens upon listening to Are You Ready For The Heartache Cause Here It Comes, keeping one locked into thinking about thick milkshakes, Beatlemania, bunny skirts and sock hops, but all as if they were happening as we speak - which means with oil and food becoming scary and scarce, with the New Kids on the Block making a comeback, with Annie Leibovitz getting unfairly chided for photographs that are boring and innocent and with music getting back to being a singles market where if you can give a killer hook, you'll get yourself a few fast cars and gobs of silly fans who want to grab your stuff to put on eBay while snapping a photo of you with their iPhones.
Lead singer Jeremy Coleman suggests in one song that he considers his mind "dirty," but he could fool a lot of people. From the sound of everything on the record and the new songs played for this session, he's got a sense of chivalry, though his libido may be working two jobs to try and get to the point where it can settle down. Many of the band's songs are searching pieces with the protagonist - assumed to be Coleman in some form or period in his life - traversing the seas and the milky ways to find that one girl who will make him a lucky man. He's willing to be the sole breadwinner if he knows that his lady will be there at home waiting with a kiss and an appreciative hug, happy and content with what she has in her man. He's willing to pilot a space ship through the galaxy if that's what it takes to accomplish the same end. He's relentless in his efforts to get this girl found and from the sound of things, it's no exaggeration that this all goes on, that there is a primary agenda to find happiness in a girl. He's a darling and a baby man, kindly stating that he's on the prowl, but there's no groping or insinuating that improprieties will come of a successful dig, just brute joyousness. These songs are about holding hands and pecks on the cheek, getting flush in the face when the girl smiles at you for the first time.
These songs are about sweaty palms and timidity in the face of mustering enough courage to ask a girl out. All of the music employed to provide accompaniment to Coleman's journeys is reminiscent to classic pop craft - of smart bass lines that send deep shivers through the songs, light bursts of guitar solo, primetime harmonies, laidback construction and short and sweet tendencies - making the easy connection to all of the work that The Beatles did, where, despite all of the complex compartments and layers, they always managed to make it come off as easy child's play. Murder Mystery does the same thing in the way that the subject matter of girls is tackled. It never feels trite or just a surefire way to move a song along. It's meant to be and when it works - as it does on every song - the results are fantastic and sort of whimsical, making it feel as if you've heard the song before, like you've lived it and loved it before, though you haven't. They're the kind of band that, completely unknown, could start playing at a barn dance in North Dakota or a tavern in Pittsburgh and receive the same favorable reaction to its likeable way of looking at probability. Coleman thinks in a big city way about the little fish and so much of his effort is placed on the idea that he's always swimming upstream, against the current, moving with everything flowing beside him - the ladies, the sights. He's lost, but he's still always got his eyes open and that's when the flood's the deepest, when we're all just a dot looking to stick to another dot.