Roisin - A Cross Between Goldfrapp and Lady Gaga
In some crazy lab experiment, what would happen if you combined the pop sensibility and dance-friendly sound of Lady Gaga with the ethereal vocals and intellectual wordsmithery of Goldfrapp to form a new musical artist? Most likely, the answer would be Roisin Murphy. While many may not be as familiar with that name, I am sure many would are familiar with the group Moloko, which Murphy happened to be the voice of. It was during her time with Moloko that fans gained an appreciation for her unique vocal styling and how it elevated the music and helped Moloko generate several hits during its musical tenure. Unfortunately though, Moloko was a collaboration between her and Mark Brydon who had become a couple, and when their relationship ended, they eventually decided to part ways and put Moloko on hiatus. It was then that Murphy ventured on her own as a solo artist and debut with the album Ruby Blue which failed commercially in Europe and even worse in the United States. That did not deter the talented Murphy, though, and worked on another album which eventually came out and was titled Overpowered which happens to be her latest release.
'Overpowered' Is Electropop With Decades of Influence
While Roisin Murphy has yet to manage to dominate mainstream music like Lady Gaga, it does not take away from the sheer talent and genius that generates from Overpowered. The album is pretty overpowering itself, containing solid electropop music with plenty of funky flavor and some really wild beats, with her smooth voice exuding confidence despite any moments of breathiness. The lyrics definitely shine on this set and show an intelligence not seen on many of the mainstream releases out there today. Riddled with pop sounds ranging across the late seventies to the early nineties, Overpowered is a wonderful piece of saturated electropop that, while obviously retro, has its own modern quirkiness. Her voice is a chameleon with a range that she utilizes without screaming and comes across as definitely refreshing. Fortunately these dance tunes are punctuated by less conventional pop which make them uniquely hers and the songs are punctuated with a solid, tight ribbon of sharp beats and blippy keyboards with unexpected little twists here and there. Murphy knows just when to throw in a synth wobble, twang or ripple into the mix while she underscores the melodies with a flicker of various instruments including a piano, grimy guitars, trumpets and quavering violins along the way.
A Few of Our Favorite 'Overpowered' Songs
The album opens with the title track "Overpowered" which is a perfect ode to melancholic memories that are sung with a seductive baby doll voice with lyrics like "When I think that I am over you/I'm overpowered" right before a zigzagging electro beat comes into play. The rippling harp and sexy echoing beat are excellent and allow Murphy to shine even when she is being subdued. "You Know Me Better" is a more up-tempo track that comes across as pure enchanted bliss with its tough, staccato vocal and conventional, insistent chorus concealing a quite complex emotional position. The next track, "Checking on Me," is another great tune with its percussive rhythm perfectly married to the song's lyrics which dwells on a meditation on jealousy. "Lemme Know" is also similar to the previous track with a catchy hook that drives the danceable beats while "Movie Star" is a departure in conception and more reminiscent of something closer to early 90s eurodance crossed with industrial which generates an urgent, grinding sound.
Roisin Murphy Slows It Down
Murphy, though, isn't shy from a good slow song and this is evident with "Primitive" that is more or less a downtempo semiballad that doesn’t take anything away from the album or previous tracks. Unfortunately though, it is followed by one of the weaker tracks on the album- but that doesn’t mean "Footprints" is bad by any accounts. It is a throwback to the 90s with its sugary pop sound but fails to generate the same kind of enthusiasm that the other tracks have provided and is only matched by the ending track "Tell Everybody" which failed to inspire me for another listen unlike many of the other tracks. "Dear Miami," though, triumphs over these two minor missteps though with a catchy but simple beat that is layered with meaning and seems to come across as a love letter to Miami's decadence. I have to say my favorite track on this album is "Cry Baby," which is definitely the album's monster club masterpiece. It has such an addictive beat and the synths are in full force that never let up while Murphy's voice definitely holds it own and brings emotion and depth to an amazing track. At the end we find tracks like "Scarlet Ribbons" which is a hesitant, flickering little ode to a father and daughter bond that seems more content to stand cutely in place without much fanfare.