Róisín Murphy – Róisín Machine (Skint / BMG)
reviewed by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
A new Róisín Murphy album is always a cause for celebration – whether it has been with her band Moloko or, in more recent times, a solo record in collaboration with a number of electronic music luminaries. This time around Róisín Machine, her first long player in four years, sees her working once again with Crooked Man aka Richard Barratt.
As if the new album was not enough Murphy has been busy making visual complements to the music under lockdown.
What’s the music like?
It is difficult to imagine a more stylish artist than Róisín Murphy. Even with Moloko it felt like her expressiveness matched the music in an effortless way, which made the finished result even more stylish and cool. Little has changed under her own name, though if anything the music is more dance based and the vocals even more meaningful.
Róisín Machine tells a story, threaded beautifully from start to finish, and as a result it works best when heard in a complete span. There are many telling lyrics, but the opening gambit, “I feel my story’s still untold, but I make my own happy ending”, sets the scene perfectly, after which Murphy and Barratt concoct a persuasive, loping groove.
Questions are asked as the album progresses. Kingdom Of Ends finds the singer “waking up every morning, thinking what the hell am I doing?”, while even during the cool chic of Shellfish Madamoiselle, with its bumpy beats and warm synthesizers, she feels that “I shouldn’t be dancing at a time like this”.
Difficult, though, when the music is so persuasive. The groove and vocal of Something More are a perfect match, the stylish slow disco-house brilliantly done. The same, too, goes for the effortless groove of Incapable. For the last two tracks, Narcissus and Jealousy, the tempo quickens and the pulse rate too, Róisín more obviously on the dancefloor.
The most compelling stories are told in Murphy’s Law, however, where she sings of how “I’d rather be alone than making do and mending”, but finds her instincts are pulling her in different directions.
Does it all work?
Yes – either as a single whole or as individual tracks, Róisín Machine is brilliantly worked through. The singer sounds completely at home, but at the same time there are thought provoking lyrics and feet-provoking grooves.
Is it recommended?
Wholeheartedly. This is an album that embodies the saying ‘Style never goes out of fashion’. Róisín Murphy remains one of our finest vocalists, and like a fine wine is just continuing to improve with age. Richard Barratt proves the ideal match in the production department, and together the two have made one of the best pop albums of the year.