With the 2015 release of Hairless Toys, Irish electro pop singer/songwriter and producer Roisin Murphy quickly became a JOVM mainstay artist with the 2015 release of Hairless Toys — 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. As a result, Murphy has collaborated with an impressive array of internationally acclaimed artists including the likes of Fatboy Slim, David Byrne, Crookers and others.
Interestingly, the sound and aesthetic of Murphy’s Hairless Toys can be traced to her 2014 EP Mi Senti, an effort she wrote and recorded with her frequent collaborator Eddie Stevens and her partner Sebastiano Propezi, and featured the Irish singer/songwriter singing covers in Italian. And as Murphy has publicly mentioned the material on both Mi Senti and Hairless Toys was written to intentionally channel Edith Piaf and Studio 54, Casablanca Records, European house music and the legendary Grace Jones in a style that Murphy coined “very adult-orientated disco.” Or more simply put, the material on both efforts — especially on Hairless Toys — is effortlessly elegant and shimmering electro pop that slowly reveals a narrator, who is on the verge of a nervous breakdown; the listener can practically feel the narrator’s psyche crumbling from the weight of her own failures and anxieties. As a result, the material on Hairless Toys possesses an aching, desperate urgency. Interestingly, Murphy’s forthcoming effort, Take Her Up To Monto takes its name from an Irish folk song popularized by The Dubliners, and is comprised of material that was written and recorded during the Hairless Toys sessions. Now while drawing from the same sources, some of the material was radically re-imagined and re-worked once Monto‘s character revealed itself.
You might recall that last month, I wrote about “Mastermind,” a slinky and tense song that draws from classic house music, freestyle and confessional singer/songwriter pop as Murphy and her frequent collaborator Stevens paired layers of shimmering synths, propulsive beats and swirling electronics with Murphy’s plaintive and aching alto in a song that eschews easily discernible hooks and choruses for a driving motorik groove reminiscent of Kraftwerk. The forthcoming album’s latest single “Ten Miles High” pairs cascading layers of undulating synths, dramatic drumming in a song with an unusual structure — not only does it focus on a propulsive motorik groove, the song is much more concerned with establishing the sensation of anxious, anticipation, vulnerability and ache.
The recently released, self-directed and self-produced music video is a wild and kaleidoscoping view of London, as we follow Murphy through empty garages, London’s public access construction sites and more. As Murphy explains the video’s visual themes “often emerge retrospectively” as it features a reality that’s familiar and alien as the video follows Murphy as she gender bends through daily life.