There’s a sunny L.A. 70s/80s pop vibe to Access, one that seems to draw water from the same well as Tom Petty, The Cars and more recent acts like Kiwi Jr. and Albertine Sarges. The fourpiece named after Mike Massa’s novels about soldiers marooned on a distant planet and lead by Major Murphy, consist of songwriter Jacob Bullard (vocals, guitar, keyboards) with Jacki Warren (vocals, bass, keyboards), Brian Voortman (drums, percussion), and Chad Houseman (percussion, organ, vocoder). They have fashioned an intoxicating set of nine songs that could be the perfect soundtrack to summer. There’s a heroic quality to their music and you can imagine standing at the top of a cliff staring out to sea and thinking deep thoughts about deep things.
Access is an album that never runs when it can saunter and take in the scenery. From the pulsing beat of the title track with its floating vocals rooted by the earthbound bass and guitar to the gently fuzzed dream of ‘Blind’ Major Murphy you can feel the attention to detail they have taken making this and it’s not surprising that it was recorded from late 2018 through to 2020. This is a bright kaleidoscope of dopamine popping candy. There’s the Frampton-esque talk-box vocoder sound on ‘Attention’, the sparseness of ‘Rainbow’ with its hypnotic guitar phrase and laconic vocal line, the scruffy tenderness of ‘Flower’, the reflective Beatles mood of ‘Tear It Apart’ and luxurious harmonies throughout; the exemplar of this is ‘In The Meantime’ a track that would raise a smile from Crosby, Stills & Nash or the Mamas & Papas.
Major Murphy may mix major and minor, but optimism wins out on Access. Much as we may all love to sit in a darkened room and embrace our inner Joy Division, we also need to open the curtains wide and let the sun in. Major Murphy give off enough solar energy to power a fleet of electric cars and this is top down, sun-kissed music that floods you with teenage optimism and a desire to drive the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
Review by Paul F Cook