Zak from Tropical Boyfriend Catalogue tell us why ‘Built on Glass’ sound-tracked his teenage years
Built on Glass effortlessly sound-tracked my teenage years.
Chet Faker’s debut album, Built On Glass, came out in April 2014 when I was 16 years old. I had first heard Chet Faker on Flume’s debut album and their hybrid EP Lockjaw. Chet Faker’s vocal is raw, intimate, lazy and accusatory. It felt wholly unique and personal. As I finished school and went through college, Built on Glass was a constant point of return.
Chet Faker’s Rhodes sets the tone of the album in opening track Release Your Problems. Slowly moving through cluster chords up the keyboard we crescendo towards Chet Fakers vocal. His unaccompanied voice places the listener in a room with him for a moment… then the reverb grows from small to expansive as his first phrase finishes and the Rhodes, Bass and Electronic Drum Kit drop back in to groove. After a minute of carefully building in to the album we have arrived at our sonic destination.
Chet Faker’s debut is confident and cool. Defined by the media as an Electro-Soul artist, Built on Glass has many more colours. The genre label may be due to the sampled drum kits and the delivery of his lyrics but it does little to explore the timbre of his music and the atmosphere he creates. The music is organic and grooves, his layered vocals are reminiscent of Bon Iver but with more urgency, there is playfulness in tracks like 1998 and sorrow in Lesson In Patience. The lyrics of Built on Glass offer much self-reflection, which is a theme that continued in Chet Faker’s releases.
Track 2 is lead-single Talk is Cheap. The track builds masterfully on Release Your Problems. Although labelled as an electronic artist, Chet Faker again blends real instruments with synthetic ones. Talk is Cheap’s opening earworm of a riff is played on the Saxophone by Chet Faker himself. Images of Chet Faker recording every instrument of the album have often filled my brain on another repeat listen as I drive along to my own gigs. The knowledge that one person produced every sound maximises the impact and intent of every line and note.
Chet Faker dived in to his writing process for track 5, Gold, on a Song Exploder Podcast. He talks about the seed idea for Gold coming from playing and covering David Essex’s song Rock On. I loved the idea of writing a guitar part along to another song and then using that as the basis for my own song. I jammed along to David Essex’s Gonna Make You A Star and wrote the guitar melody that became Tropical Boyfriend Catalogue’s Gunna Make You a Star. After writing the guitar part I turned off David Essex and quickly found the words for the first verse and chorus. I have always loved hearing about an artists writing process and Chet Faker’s odd approach to writing Gold shows that inspiration is everywhere.
My favourite song on Built on Glass is Track 6, To Me. I would sing along to the lines “You keep on lying, you keep on lying to me.” and “When you curl up in bed and it’s you in your head now, are you living?” the loudest. They aren’t dressed up. They are honest and direct. Chet’s approach to lyric writing is something I try and bring to my own song writing. Built on Glass has inspired me from the keys lines to the programmed drum kits to the production. The album has long been a go to for me whenever I want to relax or find solace. The atmosphere of the album absorbs me and inspires me.
Chet Faker has just released new single’s Get High and Low. The progression from Built on Glass to Get High and Low is profound and exciting. I am ready to hear where he is now in his life and have a new favourite album.
Editor: Thanks Zak for taking the time out to tell us about your favourite record, we loved it. If you enjoyed Zak’s choice, then check out Tropical Boyfriend Cataglogue’s work below!