October 29, ’98

By Luanne Williams

With Elliot Smith and Fastball on the charts these days, the climate for popmusic is fertile, indeed. And from the decidedly non-pop crescent that is Austincomes Darin Murphy clutching his new Solitarium, a dozen curious, roughly polished nuggets. While these songs may be a revelation to those who rememberMurphy as half of the brother/sister folk duo Trish and Darin, Murphy’s newincarnation is more like Big Star circa 1974; British Pop filtered throughSouthern soul. Playing all the instruments himself, Murphy’s songwritingdisplays a penchant for the bizarre, like the wonderfully drug-addled, LewisCarroll-ish Sermon on Mars, a Ziggy Stardust-inspired, interplanetary shuffle.Other minor epiphanies include "Big Pink Glasses, a possible homage toRobyn Hitchcock, and Stuck In A Hole (co-written with Johnny Goudie), a tunethat swims nonsensically in XTC-land. A wink and a nod aside, Murphy can wear amore serious coat. Don’t Look At Me is a bittersweet rant that devolves into aswarm of guitar jangle, while Down, the album’s centerpiece, is a gorgeous,Lennon-esque ballad. In the liner notes, Murphy says "the hook is not partof the song, the hook is the song. In Murphy’s case, the hook is thewhole album.