On I SMELL WITCHES Paul Murphy reveals himself to be a decorated graduate of the school of pop. With a thick, throaty voice that bespeaks countless nights of revelry, Murphy spits out sharply observed witticisms that camouflage heartfelt emotions. He's backed by a hard-hitting, no-frills trio equally adept at spinning out perfect power-pop ("When the Soul Divides") and fevered, Elvis Costello-ish rock (the title cut).
Murphy's lyrical gift is suited equally for trenchant character studies ("Poor Carmine") and black humor (the eminently quotable couplet "Christmas comes but once a year/Aren't you glad you're not Christmas?"). The key element of I SMELL WITCHES, though, is Murphy's way with a hook; on nearly every song he tosses off simple, elegant pop melodies that sound as effortless and natural as breathing.