Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

Róisín Murphy – Plaything

The hour after all the dreams…


Josh Love: Overpowered was one of my favorite albums of 2007, and this latest batch of singles Murphy has made with legendary producer Maurice Fulton represents the closest she’s come to date to recapturing that record’s infectious, luxurious disco-pop grandeur. Murphy assumes her natural role of defiant diva with theatricality and sass, while the track itself is propulsive yet also gloriously unhurried. The near-wordless final minute and a half could have gone on another five as far as I’m concerned.

Katherine St Asaph: Earlier this month, Róisín Murphy tweeted about the industry’s indifference to her “good and surprising records,” a spot-on and thoroughly depressing assessment. Part of it’s the industry’s indifference to women older than 25 and/or one hype cycle. (Murphy, in the Guardian: “Certain images are stuck in people’s minds about me. Like the Time Is Now video, God forbid, which is like a fucking Timotei ad. They forget the strength in it, and just think: ‘A lovely blondie girl with her hair flowing.’ It’s difficult to overcome what that leaves in people’s minds, but I try!”) Part, I suspect, is a particularly frustrating bit of human nature: an odd fatigue with artists that are consistently good and sometimes great. Like everything else Murphy has released this year with Maurice Fulton, “Plaything” is an intelligent, immaculately crafted bit of music, combining the house immediacy of Overpowered with the slowly unspooling nature of Hairless Toys with her perennial theme of the exquisite agony of being played. If I’m not as partial to it as “All My Dreams,” it’s because I prefer danger in my music to exaltation — or, to play A-side/B-side, prefer “Let Me Know” to “Sunshine.” The anticipation before a bad decision is always better than the decision itself.

Alfred Soto: Much of Roisin Murphy’s post-Overpowered output registers as theoretical dance music: the filigrees are gorgeous, the vocals swagger, and the lyrics never fail to raise an eyebrow, but the hips don’t move. The clavlnet on “Plaything” could go faster, but Murphy’s come up with her catchiest refrain in years.

Iain Mew: “Play with me til you get bored” — the hook and also her approach to the song’s structure, with results equally fleeting and absorbing.

Ryo Miyauchi: A much more straightforward warehouse beat than “All My Dreams” yet just as insular, thanks to a chorus that seethes with bottled-up frustration. Róisín doesn’t actually ask for much: a relationship a little above platonic, just to fool around. But even then, she sounds like she got cheated out of what was supposed to be a fun, casual exchange; like there’s no worse fate than being just a toy.

Will Adams: It’s fun to play, not fun to be played with. This is the tension that drives “Plaything”‘s narrative, perfectly matched by a track that’s at once seductive, with grooving basslines and clavinets sparkling above, and alienating, with vocals and percussion shivering into a feedback loop. That duality is most exemplified in the “nothing, plaything” hook — it’s a catchy taunt and a acidic dismissal — but the true core is the devastating admission tucked into the exact midpoint: “I got feelings, too.”

Vikram Joseph: For all the hype showered on “All My Dreams” and its evident sonic adventurousness, it left me rather cold. Unfortunately, “Plaything” doesn’t do any more for me. It’s anchored by a lightly syncopated but ultimately charmless house beat and coated in a slippery layer of disco sleaze. If I were to personify it, it’d be as a cocky, sharply-dressed city boy, perhaps objectively handsome but not someone you’d care to bring home.

Stephen Eisermann: Like those run-down gay clubs, “Plaything” is both grimy and filthy, while also maintaining some level of polish. Róisín’s lyrics wrap around her cold, staccato vocals, and what we’re left with is a dark, dance-pop triumph to dance moodily to.

Hazel Southwell: This isn’t instant — which isn’t a bad thing, because it absolutely bears repetitive listening — but bits grab at you instantly; the Hot Chip-esque hook, the glorious disco glitter of I know I mean nothing to you, still I can’t bring myself to hate. Róisín sounds as gorgeously warm as ever while the song is spiky pain. If this leads to an album I feel like I’m probably going to like the last third of it way too much.

Dorian Sinclair: Róisín Murphy’s voice is strong and clear, and “Plaything” wisely chooses to place it front and centre. Whether she’s sighing through the verse or strutting on the hook, the confidence and style of her delivery keeps me rapt. Pair that with the sinuous vamp of the synths and it’s a recipe for success, pinch of salt or no.

Reader average: [9.25] (4 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

Comments are closed.