Album Review: Murmurshow – Proudly Loving (Taiwan, 2016)

Murmurshow

If I were to compare Murmurshow’s music to a type of food, I believe that it is very much like chicken soup for the soul. Nourishing, warm and simple, their reassuring brand of indie pop is easy on the ears and full of heart.

Their latest album Proudly Loving is based on the idea that one should first learn to love themselves before being able to love others, a message that weaves itself naturally throughout their eclectic jumble of good-natured tunes. They tell this concept in simply worded yet meaningful language from all kinds of different perspectives; telling listeners to just be themselves in ‘Differences’, telling the story of a person who has done his lover wrong as a result of not understanding how to love himself in ‘Gone, and even songs about embracing those lazy stay-at-home days where you give yourself a chance to take a break in ‘Hate Rainy Days’ and ‘Like Staying at Home’.

Lead singer Li De Hui’s voice is especially interesting to unpack; although it does not contain the melisma of normal western-styled powerhouses, there is something very explosive about her sound. One thing’s for sure-that girl’s got a hell of a voice on her! Moving effortlessly between soft-spoken tracks such as the acoustic ‘Differences’ and soft balladic ‘No Sugar’ to more amped up tracks like the heart-wrenching ‘Gone’ and the funky ‘Valerian Root’, her lilting sound fascinates me with its depth and emotiveness with each song. Guitarist Shen Zhi Fang also was able to very skilfully incorporate guitar into most of the songs onto the album in ways that were unexpected, but fitted really well. I think his arrangements are part of what shapes Murmurshow’s laidback yet juicy works, which is something really special about them I do appreciate.

Favourites on this album include the simple ‘Differences’ which summed up perfectly the theme of the album in a sunny and cheerful way using just an acoustic guitar and simple percussion. What I really like about their music is that there aren’t that many surprises which is a good thing sometimes. From the beginning of the track, what you hear is what you get. No big, extravagant layering of instruments that cause frenzied mood changes just for the hell of it. All the way through, this song just became ore and more uplifting with its message of individuality and of deserving to be loved. A comforting song that will bring sunshine into your day when you need it the most.

One of their popular tracks, ‘Hate Rainy Days’ is a kitschy, fun and spunky track. Using an awesome combination of a harmonica and bass to create a really funky groove, the arrangement keeps the rhythm going while not distracting from Li De Hui’s soft yet full voice which fills all the cracks and moulds the song’s mood perfectly. I especially love how the guitarist Shen Zhi Fang’s funk-inspired bass is paired with an acoustic guitar which makes for a larrikin sound with a lot of bite. Such a catchy song that definitely fits Taipei’s constantly rainy weather!

Ballads such as ‘Say’ and ‘No Sugar’ stick to a more classic balladic arrangement, using violins and a piano. However, they do so in such a simple, elegant sophisticated way that it is hard not to fall in love with them. The melodies are just so heartfelt and the arrangement is actually perfect in provoking an uplifting and powerful feeling by building up solidly to the chorus in ‘Say’. It works especially strongly with the lyrics by peaking when Li sings, requesting the strength to speak of the pains once experienced. I fell in love with ‘No Sugar’ when I heard the acoustic version the duo performed on Yueren Sessions, but find their original ballad version nevertheless very calming and full of an aura of reflection and gratefulness for the simple pleasures of life. Although the piano and violin are traditionally instruments with a rich sound, once again they were able to use them both in moderation to piece together a really clean and warm love ballad.

The final song I’d like to share is “Proudly Loving” which is the title track of this album. This is probably one of the heaviest tracks on this album, and starts off with an acoustic guitar, before layering the instruments and skilfully transitioning into a rock song. The song’s lyrics are about compromise, and having someone be proud to love you. This is the seventh song in the album, so its album like the duo are showing in the previous songs how one can best love themselves, while in the songs following this seventh track, it’s more about proudly loving someone else as a result of coming to terms with yourself and being comfortable in your own skin. This is also another track that shows off Li’s explosive vocals which I really enjoyed.

Overall, this album is an eclectic mix of many genres; a little bit of funk, little bit of R&B and a good few ballads thrown in, this is the kind of music you listen to on a terrible day where you don’t want to do anything but sit down and reflect on how you can best motivate yourself to get up and start moving forward again. Murmurshow’s strong positive message of self-love is inspiring and meaningful, and their ten tracks are a really solid effort, and a pleasure to listen to.

Review Score: 8.0 out of 10

Proudly Loving is available now.