Sometimes a track finds you and you aren't quite sure how you had previously got by without it. This is definitely one of those songs.
I've been a fan of Chet Faker since his debut album Built On Glass, yet I had missed the news that he is releasing his next album under his own name. Whilst it sounds like he is leaving the door open on the possibility of more Chet Faker material in the future, working as Murphy appears to signify a move to a more raw style of songwriting.
Since announcing this new direction Murphy has unveiled a couple of songs - Fear Less and this, arguable one of the best things he has ever recorded. Stop Me (Stop You) actually came out in October but I hadn't heard it until I stumbled across it on Apple Music last week, and even then it was initially only in its edited Stop Me form. The full version ads an extended coda together with those all important brackets and in comparison the edit feels like half a thought short of realisation. A record label's compromise no doubt, but a compromise in every sense.
You could view Stop Me (Stop You) as two separate tracks joined by an electro bridge but these two parts directly reference each other, Murphy seemingly taking two separate perspectives on the same dialogue. Stop Me is insistent, determined and energised to Stop You's fragile honesty. The combination is intriguing and, to my ears at least, beautiful.
In comparison to Chet Faker the production here is less measured. This piece of music is not a modest statement. Working with Dave Harrington (the half of Darkside that isn't Nicolas Jaar), Stop Me (Stop You) boasts layers of synths, guitar, chugging bass guitar and Harrington's whirlwind drumming, giving the track's first half a chaotic but infectious drum & bass rock feel akin to Bon Iver lost at a rave. Following a deeper voyage into a full on dance track, the closing third lets Murphy's vocals take centre stage against a slowly played piano backing and ghostly atmospherics. This is a track all about that contrast, and it pulls it off with aplomb.
I struggle to put my finger on exactly what it is I love about this track so much. The sheer ambition and energy is certainly part of it but I also love the emotional ambiguity. That bipolar narrative appeals to the uncertainty we all have. The inherent inconsistency of our internal monologue: I'm not always sure who I am either. And Murphy's closing words feel like a salve. None of us quite know what we are doing, and that's probably okay: it's the journey that matters, not the destination.