Listen: Róisín Murphy ‘Hairless Toys’

With head-bobbing beats and tints of avant-garde electronica, Róisín Murphy has come a long way since her Moloko days.

Most of us will probably be more familiar with the group Róisín Murphy was one half of – Moloko’s ‘Sing it Back’ became a massive club and chart cross over hit in 1999. The group ended at the same time the duo’s romantic relationship ended, and since then Murphy has continued on with a solo career that follows in a stylistically similar vein to the electropop / trip-hop vibe of Moloko. It has been a cool eight years since her previous release (2007’s ‘Overpowered’) but Murphy’s been busy, working on a number of collaborations – from David Byrne to Fatboy Slim – releasing an EP sung entirely in Italian and also starting a family. Inspired by the classic documentary Paris is Burning a film that offered a glimpse into the halcyon days of the New York City drag ball scene of the mid-eighties, ‘Hairless Toys’ is a triumphant return and is easily her most cerebral and challenging work to date.

Wrapped in darkness and contradictions, it’s an uncompromising, confident, and lyrically sharp tour de force that instantly reaffirms Murphy’s place alongside other female artists such as Alison Goldfrapp, Beth Gibbons and Grace Jones all of whom were in complete control of their artistic vision and direction. ‘Exploitation’ is nine and a half minutes of sexual tension. Mixing tense jazzy guitar licks with the pulsing heartbeats of rhythm sticks to become a sordid late-night club groove: “never underestimate creative people and the depths they will go”. ‘Evil Eyes’ is the album’s most accessible club-ready track with its head-bobbing beats and seductive rhythm, while ‘Exile’ is a twisted avant-garde electronic mix featuring Ennio Morricone inspired guitars. Elsewhere, the eccentric and abstract ‘House of Glass’ features church organs and delightfully playful lines “we were glass house girls in our plastic wigs & pearls, people like us from broken homes never throw stones”.

Exquisitely produced with a crisp modern sheen, Hairless Toys is an elegant and sophisticated release from an artist completely comfortable with who she is and where she’s heading.

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