She's quirky and she's popular on 6 Music. Roisin Murphy was formerly in trip hop group Moloko but now makes oddball solo albums that have an electronic oddness about them that contrasts with her dramatic, breathy vocal delivery. This is her latest and follows up the very successful and Mercury Prize nominated 'Hairless Toys'.
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Wowee. This is my first encounter with Roisin Murphy (full disclosure is just as valuable as journalistic insight… question mark?) and I am overwhelmed. This record opens with a pretty good summary of how it’s going to play, with synthesis of electronic tinkering -- chords deep, bleeps squeaky, melodies video gaming -- and lyrical missives both verbose and performative. Taking it in all at once is like trying to cram a textbook into your head before an exam, only you fall into a picture in that textbook and have to adapt to its world. So. Much. Happening. On. This. Record.
“Mastermind” alone goes from pop-oriented saga to ambient-house jammer in its outro, eventually closing on a sustained hum that seems to wash away every minute particle of sound that’s been dancing through the song. “Pretty Gardens” syncopates rhythm and scatters its sounds, with Murphy delivering lyrical melodies worthy of a musical slow jam as synth sounds bounce off one another, confused but content. A bassline seems to bring everything down to the level of dub, but there’s a whole rainbow of genre hybridising happening here -- you’ve got big vocal chants, on top of everything, to offset Murphy’s downbeat whispers.
This all begs the question: why am I describing these songs? They take a paragraph at a time. The point stands that their ludicrous levels of musical traffic and style who’s-whoing are surprisingly well managed, sounding fluid and ultimately contained, for the most part. “Lip Service” is elevator muzak with Beach Boys harmonies and a firm beat. “Whatever” is an upside-down ballad so tense and building it sounds like it’s about to breach a harsh noise wall when really it’s just going into some nice, whirring, Super Mario electronics. Just like Sufjan? Nah. Too real for Sufjan.
Do not listen to this if you're tired. Only listen to this if you are more awake than you have ever been.
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