Haunted Disco is the alias of 19 year old Matthew McMurry. His spirited Enter Through The Exit mixes light rock with dream-pop and experimental music with electronica. Haunting the rather terrifying photograph is a lone figure sketched in black, standing in the doorway as if it were an audition or a screenshot for the latest Slender game. This, of course, doesn’t bode well for the unsuspecting listener. You wait for the music to consume you, but the music isn’t as frightening as first imagined. On the contrary, the music is airy and optimistic; this kind of haunting is one of fluffy paws rather than knife-clad claws.
Almost straight away, “Backseat Driver” rides down the light electronic-pop street, the sidewalk salted and then sweetened with delicious ambient harmonies and the alleys spray painted with a perfumed vocal. McMurry’s playful delivery and wide ranging use of electronic beats – all recorded on his laptop – are lovely to listen to, and the production could’ve come straight out of Hollywood, such is the quality. Whatever the equipment, it’s a professional and mature sound that well surpasses his age. This is all highly promising, and likewise the music reflects this promise. Beats wear shades, and although the 4/4 rhythms may originally have emanated from the disco they end up somewhere close to cloud 9.
Slightly deranged melodies wobble in pitch as if they were about to go out of tune, but a beautiful and glassy electric guitar enters and propels the music back into the sunshine. In fact, Haunted Disco’s music seems to prefer the outdoors to the claustrophobic nightclub; it isn’t (for the most part, at least) a dark listen, and it is never excessive or indulgent. The major harmonies keep the music from becoming neon-lit and nocturnal. Haunted Disco, then, is a mysterious tag. It may be that the music herself is haunted, littered by the blending of genres. “Foxtrot” is a perfect example. The track begins gently enough, with a lilting, at-ease piano melody. Light percussion then takes root, and before you know it the track has become a rhythmic titan. The piano shrinks itself, changing its tone and flavour as a chameleon changes colour; the minimal loop is pushed forward by the strict beat. “Dead Air” shifts from a skittering beat and a gravel-dusted bassline (disco), to ambient starlight (the exit point).
It’s a constantly surprising album that twists and turns. There’s a feeling we might’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere and instead found ourselves inside Ripley’s Believe it or Not. The guitar-led phrases and melodies of “Elekted” provide some lighter moments, crystalline in its clean, sunny tone. “Hollowed Out” opens the ghost trap and drops the spooks back in the building, though. With its creepy semitone intervals jangling the piano keys, it leaves mysterious scratches on the music, written in wounds on the back of your dance partner.
Enter Through The Exit comes to a stunning conclusion on “Blair”, where a lovely synth-rich progression takes control. McMurry specializes in lyrical poetry as well as track construction. In the modern world, it’s all too easy to put trashy lyrics next to a dominant beat; you can rely on the beat to get you through. You know, the kind of lyrics that are almost afterthoughts, secondary to the rhythm, but nonetheless they have a habit of sticking to your ears like chewing gum. Haunted Disco bucks the trend with his intelligent, thoughtful lyrics. Take a listen and try not to be impressed. It wasn’t as scary as it first appeared; nobody notices the nervy take-off when you have a perfect landing. (James Catchpole)