Faker's breakout 2014 debut was a chilled-out delight of crafty trip-hop beats, jazzy sway, and disarmingly rich vocals. The two follow-up records he made under his given name found the Australian singer/producer nurturing his organic pop tendencies to strong critical response but lackluster chart performance. Back in Faker mode, he wields an effortless sense of cool, assembling a set of mood pieces that are cathartic in a subtle and often joyful way. Recording in New York just as the city was entering the 2020 pandemic lockdown, Murphy was dealt an additional blow by the sudden death of his father. Shaded by tragedy and global tension, he recast his project as a form of therapy in the hopes of offering some shred of inspiration, to himself and others. Laid out like a mission statement in the spoken intro of "Oh Me Oh My," Faker intones with weary wonder "Music does something, I don't know what it does, I just accept it as the sky is blue." As the track kicks in, he delivers a tour de force full of slinky charm and quirky asides sounding like a hip-hop Andrew Bird or a bluesy Beck. Another highlight, "Low," is full of bootstrapping affirmations and eerie dub-like sonic details. As Faker rolls through dreamy electro soundscapes ("Whatever Tomorrow") and funky neo-soul ("Feel Good" and "So Long So Lonely''), he sounds more fascinated by life's turns than bummed out by them. Proof that you can't keep a good man down, Hotel Surrender is a testament to Murphy's skills as an artist and his attitude as a person.