Ever since my first encounter with The Reluctant Graveyard, the 2010 album that completed Jeremy Messersmith’s trilogy of indie pop perfection, Heart Murmurs has been pulsating on my radar. I stumbled upon Messersmith’s music while rummaging through Band Camp, and while I’m not much of a pop fan other than my admittedly unhealthy obsession with John Mayer, I decided to give Messersmith’s record a spin. The Reluctant Graveyard brought music to my ears that I never knew could come from a pop artist, as Messersmith’s soothing voice swept me away amidst a collage of instrumentals. The lyrics are impeccable, and the thematic elements concerning life and death were embedded very finely with the album’s instrumentals.
Messersmith’s new full-length LP, Heart Murmurs, was released in February 2014, just in time for Valentine’s day. I have listened to the album a few times, and admittedly didn’t quite get it the first time through. The record is another Messersmith album for sure, but something is very different; the indie aura that surrounded his previous releases is not altogether gone, but hidden beneath Heart Murmurs, marking a new direction for the artist towards a more mainstream audience. This slight change in musicality makes sense as Mesersmith has just signed on to Glassnote Records for his latest release, as opposed to releasing the album independently as he has done previously. Messersmith’s new sound isn’t quite a departure from his roots, but creates a more theatrical presence. A prime example of this new feel is the gradual buildup in the track “Hitman,” where he commences with his vocals and acoustic guitar as the backing band gradually floats into the mix, ending with an epic final swooning chorus on top of distorted guitars, synth effects, and a drummer.
After about the third listen, Heart Murmurs clicked. It’s apparent that Messersmith progressed very naturally into his current sound and only built upon the genius that he demonstrated previously. Messersmith’s simplicity in his writing proves that you don’t need a million dollar budget and a team of writers to produce an amazing pop album. Jeremy’s influences are also on a greater display than they ever have been, and the music on Heart Murmurs greets the listener with many sub genres of pop while maintaining a consistent sound.
Heart Murmurs’ lyrics tell the story of love, a story almost all pop artists find themselves sharing at least once in their career, and while this isn’t Messersmith’s first foray in the subject, it’s certainly his best effort. Tracks like “It’s Only Dancing,” “Tourniquet,” and “I Want To Be Your One Night Stand,” remind us of the happiness and carelessness that can be found in romance, while tracks such as “Heidi”, “Steve”, and “Hitman”, discuss the hardships and heartbreak one can go through in a relationship. Messersmith strikes a nice balance between happy beginnings and sad endings, and the album flows like riding a roller-coaster through a teenage love story.
Heart Murmurs has placed Messersmith amongst the likes of John Mayer in my book. This will surely be the album that takes Messersmith to new heights and onto the mainstream airwaves.
Mike Naples is a student at West Chester University. He can be reached at MN805392@wcupa.edu.