With the 2015 release of Hairless Toys, Irish electro pop singer/songwriter and producer Roisin Murphy quickly became a JOVM mainstay artist — and that shouldn’t be surprising as Murphy has a long-held reputation for being an inventive and genre defying artist, whose sound and aesthetic incorporates elements of jazz, pop, electronic dance music and found field recordings and samples. And although her 2005 full-length solo debut Ruby Blue was a critically applauded departure from her early work in pop act Moloko, the effort was a commercial failure; however, her 2007 release Overpowered was a critical and commercial success as the album was considered for nomination for that year’s MTV Europe Music Award for Best International Act.
Over the next few years, Murphy hadn’t released any album-length material but she did collaborate with an impressive array of internationally acclaimed artists including the likes of Fatboy Slim, David Byrne, Crookers and others. 2014 marked the release of the Mi Senti EP, a collaboration with her frequent collaborator Eddie Stevens and her partner Sebastiano Propezi, which featured the Irish singer/songwriter singing covers in Italian. And according to Murphy, the album’s material was written to intentionally channel Edith Piaf and Studio 54 in a style that Murphy coined “very adult-orientated disco.”
The aforementioned Hairless Toys was Murphy’s first full-length release in over eight years and the material off the album reportedly drew from very similar influences to the Mi Senti EP — in this particular case, European house music, Casablanca Records, and the legendary Grace Jones. Simply put, the material is effortlessly elegant and shimmering electro pop that slowly reveals that its narrator is on the verge of mental breakdown — you can practically feel their psyche crumbling from the weight of her own failures and anxieties. And as a result, it gives the material an aching, desperate urgency. Interestingly, the forthcoming Take Her Up To Monto an album that takes its name from an Irish folk song popularized by The Dubliners, is comprised of material that was written and recorded during the intense writing and recording sessions that wound up resulting in Hairless Toys. And although drawing from disco, cabaret, pop torch songs some of the material was radically reimagined and reworked once the Take Her Up To Monto‘s tone and character revealed itself.
Monto’s latest single “Mastermind” is a slinky and tense song that sonically seems to draw from classic house music, freestyle and confessional singer/songwriter pop as Murphy and her frequent collaborator Eddie Stevens pair layers of shimmering synths, propulsive beats and swirling electronics with Murphy’s plaintive and aching alto in an song with an expansive song structure that eschews easily discernible hooks and choruses for a driving motorik groove reminiscent of Kraftwerk as the song comes and goes about in strange and unfamiliar angles revealing an artist, who relentlessly pushes her sound and aesthetic forward and into new territories.