Album Reviews

Róisín Murphy – Take Her Up To Monto


With the promotional admission that Róisín Murphy’s latest full-length album Take Her Up To Monto was born from sessions concurrent to her last LP, the faultlessly idiosyncratic Hairless Toys, the worry listeners faced was that the ‘new’ material on offer so shortly after might have been, well, old. But in typically daring fashion, what has resulted from these sessions is a collection of tracks that boasts the same verve and vibrancy as heard on Hairless Toys, but with a razor’s edge running throughout that’s explicit in differentiating THUTM from its predecessor – a feat that few manage to coherently demonstrate.

The thing is though, fans can trust Murphy to keep cashing bets on increasingly bigger gambles. They pay off. They pay well. Musically, THUTM adheres to the well-trodden ground of singular vision, spaced-out disco that seems to morph and coalesce into tracks larger than the sum of their parts. Here, this familiar motif of Murphy’s is done with much more urgency and aplomb than on Hairless Toys and it’s arguably the case that production partner-in- crime Eddie Stevens has had a part to play. After all, the pair have been a formidable presence over the years in giving modern popular music a good kick up the arse. ‘Mastermind’, for example, is a chambered bullet just waiting to emerge from the gun pointed at the trite, convoluted 4/4 schlock permeating tired dance- floors everywhere, and Murphy has an itchy trigger finger.

‘Ten Miles High’, the second cut delivered in the run up to THUTM’s release, is similarly gauged to blow away the sheepish rabble of shit clogging the airwaves; its shimmering synths and click-clack grandeur only matched in appeal by the accompanying video – Murphy’s neon attire symbolising the danger with which the track threatens to catch you in its grip. Grooves are inextricable to THUTM too, and a serious step-up in rhythmic reach serves Murphy well – ‘Lip Service’ explores a kind of soft Casio calypso that’s whispered in sultry tones and executed with refreshingly simple elevator muzak guitars, while ‘Romantic Comedy’ conversely bangs along, saturated in glitch and glitz. Sparkling, off-key synth stabs are reminiscent of AFX’s weird excursions in melody, and scaffold Murphy’s oscillating vocal phrasing to impressive stability.

This series of delves to the limits of pop experimentation make for much more than an enjoyable album – they continue to perpetrate the perception of Murphy as an ambitious, unquenchable innovator; a laurel on which she isn’t likely to rest anytime soon. Just listen to the eight-minute cerebral circumnavigation of bookending track ‘Nervous Sleep’ – an unmatchable representation of Murphy’s scope that won’t be found anywhere else in her expansive back catalogue. If Róisín Murphy stays on track with this calibre of creative output, then sign me up and take me up to Monto. Aaron Drain