On “Ten Miles High,” Roísín Murphy orchestrates electronica rhythms, suspenseful dynamics, and her distinct velvet-throated croon to soundtrack the heist movie that’s showing in her head. The look of Murphy’s imaginary film is irresistible, its hi-res sheen highlighting the song’s seductive pull and delicately masking the fact that the narrator is perhaps a teensy bit loony. And I’m not even talking about the real promo video for this song, which appears to project Murphy into a real-life Lego City kit.
“Ten Miles High” is the first single from Roísín Murphy’s new album, Take Her Up To Monto, which was drawn from the same recording session that yielded last year’s stellar Hairless Toys — the first new product for the former Moloko frontwoman after an eight-year hiatus. Fortunately, the new record is no collection of second-rate leftovers. Where Hairless Toys was sequenced like a single night of temptation, its tempos and silences conveying a thrilling sense of intimacy, the emotional range and self-contained quality of Take Her Up To Monto’s tracks suggest a collection of daytime short stories in which protagonists are sized up in new light, angels and devils give their shoulder-top statements, and consequential decisions are made too lightly.
Take Her Up To Monto is another fantastic album from this always innovative and exciting artist. Admittedly, having never really recovered from Eurythmics’ “Love is a Stranger” video over thirty years ago, I may not the the most reliable judge on whether Murphy’s kind of adult alternative electronica remains a musical necessity. But Europeans go gaga for Roísín Murphy, and they kept disco alive during the grunge years, so I say we follow their lead on this one too.
A sociology professor living in upstate New York, Leonard Nevarez is patiently waiting until his kids are old enough for a family roadtrip to Maryland Deathfest. He blogs at musicalurbanism.org and is writing a book about Martha & the Muffins and the late 70s/early 80s downtown Toronto music scene.