Róisín Murphy is back, but perhaps not quite in the way you were expecting.
The forward-thinking Irish singer-songstress, who provided one of the decade’s best electronic records in Overpowered back in 2007, has returned at last after endless teases over the past few years with “Gone Fishing,” the lead single from her long-awaited LP, called Hairless Toys. (Sure. Why not?)
The good news is that the song’s inspired by ball culture staple, Paris Is Burning.
This song was written after I watched the documentary film Paris Is Burning, having read an article which referenced it in a discussion about House music’s origins in black, gay culture. I was deeply moved by this film. ‘I had to run this far from home’ – it’s about the outcasts who could never fit into mainstream society and how they created a safe place in the drag ‘Ball’ scene of New York in the ‘80s. ‘Will we live on? The children of La Beija’ refers to the ‘house’ of Pepper La Beija, who was one of the most notable figures on the scene, Pepper is also quoted in Malcolm McLaren’s song on the same subject ‘Deep In Vogue’. The culture was a flamboyant reaction to persecution and disillusionment, the imagination and bravery of these kids is simply awe-inspiring. I envisioned ‘Gone Fishing’ almost as a song from a Broadway musical version of this story. The making of one’s own world, a safer world and the creation of a new, better family in music or youth culture is a theme I touch upon elsewhere on my album Hairless Toys.
So is Róisín deep in vogue? Uh, well. No, not really.
The gently whispered tune tip-toes along lush electronic ripples and light beats, feeling more like a cross between the warm pulsations of Murphy’s Italian language EP Mi Senti and experimental blips of Ruby Blue than a huge pop record like Overpowered or a more obvious ode to ball culture like “Vogue,” which is…urgh.
I mean, sure: It’s pleasant. And if you close your eyes and listen closely, you can hear her tell the tale of the legendary children. It’s artsy fartsy and left-lane. But is it as immense as “You Know Me Better”? Or “Let Me Know”? Or “Momma’s Place”? Certainly not. The children want to dance, Róisín! Or at least this one does…
According to Billboard, the album’s inspired by “the dark disco of European house music, Casablanca Records and Grace Jones, while seamlessly taking in the freedom and organic spirit of jazz, country and gospel.”
Here’s hoping she’s gone for a soft landing before delivering the dancier goods.
Hairless Toys tracklist
1. Gone Fishing
2. Evil Eyes
4. Uninvited Guest
6. House of Glass
7. Hairless Toys (Gotta Hurt)
‘Hairless Toys’ will be released on May 8. (iTunes)