Don't confuse 'em with Gizz. While there are more than a few connections with the Lizard Wizard The Murlocs have always been a little closer to blues than psychedelia. Take a left turn before the peace, love ‘n’ groovy of Sgt Pepper’s and know that if you've hit into Robert Johnson you've gone too far. This is Paul Butterfield and Canned Heat where talkin' about here - straight ahead R&B.
So rhythm and blues the Murlocs’ sound may be, but lyrically new album MANIC CANDID EPISODE sees the group pulling in more directions than just the genre staples of broken romance and rusty locomotives. ‘Withstand’ makes a statement of protest while ‘Comfort Zone’ spins as big of a ballad as the group has ever cut. It’s this kind of derangement that sees them firing best. Blues, balladry, and the big beat. Where but in the Murlocs’ mayhem could this all sit so comfortably together?
This loose mindedness that slips in at other times too, like when ‘Catch 22’ feels like it’s hipping itself to Pink Floyd or when ‘Problematic Subject’ lets loose guitar lines looking to echo ‘Have Love Will Travel’. ‘Compromise’ sounds like it wants to break into a majestic stroke of metal riffing but never quite goes there because this is The Murlocs we’re listening to here and they don’t do that kinda thing.
They’re no preservationists. When the Murlocs draw upon the classic form they’re decorating it with all kinds of oddness. And if they’re ever slipping too much into their own cosmic weirdness, there’s always the searing harp lines of a full-tilt boogie to bring them and anybody else who might happen to be listening back and in check. On MANIC this moment comes with ‘What If?’.
This latest album’s lunacy may not lift too further off from the group’s earlier helpings but that might just be because it feels like the party never finished. MANIC fits into those earlier records' picture, sure. But it might just come in closer to the end of the night than the giddy peak. It doesn’t carry the ebullient skip of something like Loopholes’ ‘Paranoid Joy’ but still it's just as fun. A shade grimmer but lo and behold, ain’t that just the tidings of the troubled times?
Words by Riley Fitzgerald
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