It’s been about 7 years since we’ve seen Chet Faker release an album. After a tumultuous year, Chet Faker’s returned with ‘Hotel Surrender’, a self-produced album that truly reminds us why we all fell in love with his smooth melodies way back’ in 2012 when his debut album was released.
Chet Faker has a talent for balancing jazzy elements of his melodies with sharp electronic production to create a soulful atmosphere. This signature sound is prevalent throughout all of his work, but on ‘Hotel Surrender’, that iconic sound is paired with tracks that stretch out into new areas, laced with ‘70s-inspired flair.
If you’re a listener wanting to remind yourself why you fell in love with Chet Faker, you’ll want to listen to ‘Low’, ‘It’s Not You’ and ‘In Too Far’. These three songs fully encapsulate Chet Faker’s signature sound with string piano tones, soft synths and snappy beats. ‘Low’ is an incredible reintroduction to Chet Faker’s work, as it feels warm and comforting. ‘It’s Not You’ has a baseline gliding over the drum track as synths buzz along with the sweetest horns and ‘In Too Far’ lifts Chet Faker’s harmonious vocals so they can float over the twinkling pianos and make the track feel light.
‘Feel Good’ also has elements of a familiar Chet Faker song, but it’s laced with something new. Warped vocals slither between delicate strings, whilst the beat helps the vibrant synths add a bit of flavour into the melody.
‘Feel Good’ feels like a slow disco track. You’d expect to hear it on a dance floor and it definitely makes you want to dance. This is just a lower tempo dance that doesn’t feel forced or too energetic. It’s an effortless groove that just lights you up.
This kind of groove continues on ‘Oh Me Oh My’, as strings soar above the beat and a jazz-inspired melody slides in. Bouncing synths and faint atmospherics also add a sense of dreaminess to this track.
From here, Chet Faker really starts to flex his musical muscles and blend the folksy R’n’B we’ve come to expect from him and blend it with experimental dance elements. ‘Get High’ is a great example of this as it blends a stunning piano track with a steady beat and popping samples that give the track a boost of energy. It’s whimsical, folksy and full of swagger – all at the same time.
‘Whatever Tomorrow’ and ‘I Must Be Stupid’ have quite solemn lyrics, but the production stops the tracks from becoming full-on ballads.
‘I Must Be Stupid’ uses warped samples and trippy synths to uplift the piano. Twangy guitars also accompany the vocals harmonies in the chorus and it just feels like the solemn nature of the track is being balanced out by the more energetic instruments. ‘Whatever Tomorrow’ is balanced out by gospel-inspired organs and analogue synths making it feel almost sun-drenched. Digitally sun-drenched. It’s beaming with warmth, whilst also being as sharp and cold as steel.
The way Chet Faker is able to make so many different elements work together, without his tracks feeling scattered, disjointed and overcrowded, is phenomenal. Everything just works so well and just when you thought things felt almost too familiar, he throws in something you’ve never heard before and changes your perception of him and his music.
Chet Faker may have just made his long-awaited return, but ‘Hotel Surrender’ isn’t a typical Chet Faker album. Yes, it does have songs that carry on his soulful legacy, but we’re also presented with brand new work that shows how he’s able to blend so many instruments together without the final product feeling too overpowering. Chet Faker knows just how to surprise us and ‘Hotel Surrender’ is hopefully just the first taste of, hopefully, a plethora of exciting new work.