Those who caught feelings for Major Murphy's "Mary," the plaintive single released in November of 2017, may be pleased to find that it's no outlier on the Grand Rapids, MI outfit's debut album, No. 1. Brimming with jangly guitar, shimmering riffs, synth-sheened grooves, and commanding backing vocals, No. 1 reimagines 1970s radio rock with bristling sensitivity for our present era. Not quite pastiche, the lyrics of songwriter Jacob Bullard come from millennials' unique cache of societal anxiety and ego-crises. On one hand, the technicolor and mechanized world of No. 1 is unmistakably ours: we are over-stimulated and pressured, confused and frustrated.
On the other, Bullard heaves up worries seeded in adult selfhood and relationships, working for answers beyond life's many brief and manic vanities. The album's musical sensibilities catch all this with A-side's sudden velocity and mechanical repetitions, and B side's encouraging grooves and contemplative soft-rock. The sound is rich and evocative, owing in large measure to bassist Jacki Warren's faculty for harmonic structure. Drummer Brian Voortman's keen responsiveness to melodic progressions and emotional shifts make for concert-like, energetic recordings--in fact, most of No. 1 was recorded live, capturing how naturally Major Murphy makes music together.