Róisín Murphy – Overpowered (2007)
After almost ten years and four studio albums, Mark Brydon and Róisín Murphy, aka Moloko, split. Personally and professionally. They were an underground electronic-dance force, continuing to amass believers when they called it quits in 2003, and anyway, Róisín Murphy went solo. And for as good as Moloko were, (and they were) (and with all respect to Mark Brydon) the fates did the right thing there. Róisín was meant to go solo. First she teamed up with byte-blooded electro-concrete-pioneer Matthew Herbert and released Ruby Blue (2005); a seductive micro-mash of jagged (yet) swoony beats built from household objects and cut digital drones, then splashed with that silky smoky goodness of Ms. Murphy’s voice. It was smooth, hypnotic and striding, moving in ways that displayed not only fun technical experimentation but also deep soul. When she followed up with this, two years later, it was apparent that here was a truly creative artist reassembling her form, having rewritten the targeting strategies for the next song. It was bold and sexy and stylish and seductively catchy. She flew those Dusty Springfield-like tones of hers through an exciting solar system of songs, each one coloured different, like planets with their own unique atmosphere. They all become your favourites at some point over time. Whether it’s the hot lava landscape of “Cry Baby”, or the sweat-soaked swamps of “Primitive”, or the dark neon city of “Overpowered”, or the icy caverns of “Scarlet Ribbon”, or the urban fast-lane of “Movie Star”, or the oceanic pulses of “Checkin’ On Me”, or one of the other extrasolar songs on this album, they will all lure you at some point. And once crash-landed, you may debate whether to try and escape at all. She worked with a number of cool producers, and for as singular as the songs are, they work together as a whole.
Her impeccable taste, keen musical intelligence and obvious talents have kept the cool collaborators (and fashion designers) lining up, even while she’s taken time off to have a bub, with a couple of tasty singles appearing over the last few years. And there is now word on the street of an impending new alb sometime soon. In the meantime, if you’re looking for the venue where electronic/dance music, art, and fashion collide, this is still a great place to find it. Forget Lady Gaga. Gaga wishes she was this cool…probably why she has pilfered so many visual ideas and outfits from Róisín. Gaga just has none of the style or subtlety. The difference between Róisín Murphy and Lady Gaga is the difference between Elvis and the Elvis impersonator. Although that might be giving Gaga’s music too much credence, so maybe it’s more like the difference between gold and fool’s gold. Maybe in certain lights it can appear vaguely similar, but that’s about it. Actually, Murphy is so superior I should just drop any comparisons. I guess I feel like raising it, simply because Murphy has managed to remain coolly underground, and Gaga fans are possibly just unaware that there is far better stuff out there. Overpowered is what happens when pop and dance and electronica reach for the stars.
by Decoy Spoon