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Róisín Murphy
Hairless Toys Ian Wade , May 20th, 2015 12:21

The tale of why Róisín Murphy isn't a super massive global pop thing will have future historians scratching their heads in disbelief. How someone with chart form as one half of Moloko could release a succession of incredible music to decreasing audience borders on the criminal.

It's not to say that others haven't possibly cocked a look or two from her either. Lady Gaga for one, what with her lobster headpieces and outfits made from plastic balls, possibly might have been inspired by Róisín's Overpowered vision, where each sleeve had her done up in severe-looking avant garms while down the local caff or down the pub. That's always been part of Murphy's appeal - she can hang with the high art set and launch a perfume, between quite happily getting up and singing 'Sing It Back' at super tot rave Big Fish Little Fish.

Now after a break of eight years - give or take last year's Mi Senti EP and the luxurious doof of 'Simulation' and various one-off singles - Roisin is back. At first Hairless Toys sounds barely there and free of tune, but to leave it at that would do it a disservice. Any initial fear soon defrosts once the melody of 'Gone Fishing' or 'Exile' claw into the head. With longtime associate Eddie Stevens producing intricate layers of ripples, teases and textures, Hairless Toys sounds like the work of a pair of minds that know each other inside out. That almost telepathic connection of artist and producer, that very rarely comes off as complete and as magnificent as this.

Opening with 'Gone Fishing', a number inspired by the legendary Paris Is Burning vogue-up documentary, wherein various houses would disregard the likes of colour and race and whatnot and their muses would display realness via the medium of walking and working the catwalk. Róisín seems to dart from note to note a two-note gymnastic array of mini-bloops and bells.

Exploitation begins with a riot of glam drums before settling into an after hours club groove, ticking and whirring, flickering and wobbling menacingly away for near ten minutes. To be honest, it could go on for twice that and still not out-live its welcome. The scatty futuristic hot-plate post-jazz 'Uninvited Guest' features the chirpiest whistle in pop since 'I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman'. 'Exile' is all warmth and desolate edge-of-the-country gorgeousness with added vibes thrown in by Ian McLagan's Hammond & Wurlitzer. 'House Of Glass' manages to hang together like a cobweb of funky guitar and house structures as Róisín glides about diaphonously, banging on about people in glass houses, like some elegant shade dispenser.

So not an out and out album of doof dancefloor bangers, this is more the evolution of an artist, at comfort in her environment, and holding her own. Think Grace Jones' Nightclubbing, or even an electronic Broken English - an album that can be enjoyed at home as you're ready to go out or come home afterwards to. Hairless Toys is a complete masterwork, and serves notice that Murphy is well and truly back and still some serious way ahead of her peers. All hail!

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