Humorous sarcasm, observational wit combined with hyper-activeness can be a charming and entertaining mix for a musician. It sums up the engaging magnetism of art pop artist Roísín Murphy. The Irish musician’s short attention span is particularly noticeable and was exemplified by her epic hat-roulette at the 2016 Glastonbury festival and her surprising decision to release her fourth solo album Take Her Up To Monto, just 14 months after her third Hairless Toys. This amorphous nature was shown in the song structures of the predecessor and thankfully this frenzied attribute continues on the fresh follow-up in all it’s multi-layered glory. This paired with the two aforementioned elements of her triad (sarcasm and observational wit) make the latest album less of a rushed project and more a well-considered addition to the catalogue of the AIM’s Outstanding Contribution To Music Award winner.
Whilst Hairless Toys had a bitter vendetta, with its commentary about the music industry and short films showing how it can bring one to the brink of insanity, Take Her Up To Monto doesn’t dwell on the past and shows Murphy’s new enthusiasm; the environment. She demonstrates this initially by donning a high visibility construction uniform on the album cover and on stage, as well as her investigation of the London Underground on the promo for ‘Ten Miles High’ – a song that uses architecture metaphors (“As we rise so far above. Our little lights in minature. And even your eyes can be transfixed.”) to illustrate her sky-high ambitions. Environmental noise including street voices on ‘Thoughts Wasted’ and ‘Nervous Sleep’ continue this in-the-moment modern setting. One of the reasons for this switch in interest is that Murphy has said (including NBHAP) that she’s grown to love her new home of London as it matches her free-spirited personality but she doesn’t fail to forget her heritage by naming the album’s title Take Her Up To Monto after a traditional Irish folk song about Dublin.
Admittedly, the environmental theme isn’t consistently carried completely through the album and many songs point back to a common theme in her work; the relationship between herself and another creative person – in this case Italian producer Sebastian Properzi. However, Murphy delivers amusing conversations with her partner through her idiosyncratic cheekiness and intellectually poetic vocabulary that make it a delight. ‘Mastermind’ and ‘Lip Service’ comment and massage her partner’s big-shot ego. On the former, she succumbs to his submissive role after losing the patriarchal fight: “With your masterplan, I’ll be putty in your hands”, whilst on the latter Murphy calls him a king and pretends to shout on the rooftops about his courteous behaviour. Furthermore, the tropical drum-machine ‘Lip Service’ is appropriately titled because it simultaneously suggests a sexual connotation and a pretentious half-hearted speech. There’s a twist, as on the hypnotic ‘Romantic Comedy’ Murphy admits her criticisms are just part of her risky sense of humour and she desperately hopes that Properzi get’s the inside joke on a track. Like any Roísín Murphy album, it’s building materials toy and please in equal measure.