Róisín Murphy has been a pioneer when it comes to electronic music and with ‘Hit Parade’, she has solidified her icon status. Pairing up with DJ Koze, the two have created a record which does exactly what it says on the tin; delivering hit after hit that sail by you in a haze of awe. Predecessor ‘Roisin Machine’ brought the Moloko artist back to the forefront of critic’s and music lovers’ minds alike. Combining aspects of house, pop and modern electronic was a winning mix. ‘Hit Parade’ continues this but injects another type of energy into every track. Whether it’s humour, a dance sensibility or graceful gentleness, Murphy has captured the essence of the ups and downs of life.
The record has crests and waves, not a trough to be found. The seamless transitions from light to dark are expertly done.‘CooCool’ is so groovy, so danceable with sumptuous bass and crazy mini guitar riffs. ‘Hurtz so Bad’ has a darker tone to it. “Did I get it wrong?/ All along” leaves behind the upbeat atmosphere but replaces it with an emotional purging. These charged tracks make ‘Hit Parade’ more than a record stacked with bangers, ready for the dancefloor. The likes of ‘You Knew’ with its deep house melody and melancholic tender vocals add a complexity to the album.
The soundbytes which are scattered throughout the record are downright hilarious particularly on sunny ‘The Universe’ and ‘Crazy Ants Reprise’. Murphy puts on a Californian accent, highlighting the many times that things have been blown out of proportion because of a certain American outlook. “This guy, this captain was right out in the ocean, rowing away, rowing away from the boat,” interrupts the American voice and Murphy responds right back singing “Row, row, row and row” (potentially being a dig at those who chat during performances). Even Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan gets a small feature on ‘The House’.
Passionate ‘Fader’ is accompanied with a music video filmed in Róisín Murphy’s childhood home Arklow in Ireland. Irish dancers and girls in communion dresses, boy scouts and baton twirlers capture the true parade that Murphy is a part of and is a beautiful gesture to her Irish roots. Experimental ‘Two Ways’ is a trap inspired track that is the definition of a musical slam dunk. Melding Murphy’s sensuous vocals, a vocoder and pounding 808, she pushes the genre boundaries and delivers a contemporary track that blows the current names in music out of the water.
‘Hit Parade’ is as colourful and playful as Róisín Murphy herself. Truly a contender for album of the year, Murphy has created an album of true musical depth that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Mashing genres, both new and well-loved together means that Murphy is doing what any artist should be doing which is responding to what is happening around them. Marching to the beat of her own drum, Róisín is setting a precedent to be followed for decades to come.
Words: Sophia McDonald
[This review of ‘Hit Parade’ was written and submitted before the current row regarding Róisín Murphy‘s views on puberty blockers, and her subsequent statement]