By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
What these albums had that Bauhaus lacked was a strong sense of unity within the song. Melody is prominent in Murphy's solo work, while the melodies were comparatively concealed within Bauhaus's records. Love Hysteria also marks the beginning of Murphy's relationship with songwriter Paul Statham.
Any collaborative effort has its pitfalls. With regard to Statham, Murphy claims he "finds that my own expression is quite limited that way. Selfishly, I would like to be able to write everything myself, to see exactly what I'm capable of. But I know that doesn't work from a commercial point of view." Murphy sees the teaming, on the whole, as positive. That's obvious in the fruits of their efforts (three albums over four years). "Paul, as a writer, is rather unfocused," Murphy says. "He will come to me with very prolific pieces that seemingly have no end in sight. I've enjoyed catching little moments of his sketches and bringing them down to Earth."
On his third solo album, Deep, Murphy's Bauhaus influences began to seep back into his music, bringing about a sound more relaxed and more powerful - guitars coupled with ballsy keyboards to support the vocalist's melodies. Then Murphy blew Holy Smoke at his fans. On this most recent release, Murphy could no longer suppress the Bauhaus within him.
Wildness characterizes Holy Smoke. "Low Room," for example, is a song that, like Bauhaus, gets its message across both lyrically and musically. "The streets have gone wild defeated wild," Murphy sings, referencing the violent unrest common to modern day life. "It's happening all over," he says. "It's that L.A. thing. In Europe, Yugoslavia, Bangkok. Everywhere you look there's that chaos on the streets." And so he sings, "Sitting in the low room/Where we wind our love loom/Don't y'think it's wrong/That I should get stuck in a room." That image, Murphy says, is drawn from "sitting back, sitting on a fence, not exploring enough."
The new album blends what Murphy has learned about melody and coherence with what he already knew about mystery and plain old oomph. Just like the vampire with which he's closely associated, he entices his listeners, sounding sometimes menacing, sometimes operatic, sometimes discordant. He tempts with sweet melodies and a driving beat. When it is least expected, Murphy will let loose a powerful roar of harmony and pounce on his victim until, with the final fade, the prey is left with a deep hunger for more.