Róisín Murphy – Hairless Toys

It seems you can always rely on Róisín Murphy if you’re in the market for eccentric and oddball but brilliant pop music. She also seems to be getting more prolific, which for someone this well established in their career is very unusual – Hairless Toys is her third album, but it isn’t even her most recent any more. Still, it came out less than two years ago, which qualifies it for inclusion in the review section, and anyway I haven’t heard the follow-up yet.

Some eight years after Overpowered, it picks up pretty much where she left off, but deeper and darker this time – the opening track is Gone Fishing, a pleasant deep dub-infused track with a murmured vocal. Frankly it would never have been a number one hit, but neither do you find yourself reaching for the skip button, and at the right time of day it’s very pleasant indeed.

Evil Eyes explores some dark electro elements in amongst a contemporary house beat, and is also very pleasant. At this tempo you probably wouldn’t hear it in many clubs, despite the great disco sounds in the chorus, but in the right environment it sounds great.

It’s an engaging album, but it’s also mellow enough that you might find yourself tuning out from time to time. Turn your attention back, and Exploitation has started, with its weird warped synth backing and soft woodblock sounds. If you can stop yourself from shouting “it should be whom,” this is probably the best song on here, and it fills its nine minute duration comfortably.

But this is, in a way, something of a genre-defying album – Uninvited Guest has an almost gospel backing vocal, with a bit of whistling and weird yawny noises in the chorus. At the same time, the lounge electronic piano sound bounces along with a bit of a jazz feel, the tempo shifts, and the whole thing is very odd indeed. In a good way – somehow it all works together.

Exile is as close to electro-country as you probably ever want to find yourself – it sounds like the product of a country singer sitting on an alien planet with its curious percussive noises, and at four minutes it’s also by far the shortest track on here, but it’s very good too. Then the trippy pad-driven House of Glass follows, gradually growing into one of the most uptempo tracks on here.

It’s difficult to find much negative about this album, unless perhaps downtempo music isn’t your thing. Hairless Toys (Gotta Hurt) could have easily been a huge hit single with different production, but the understated nature of this album makes it a gentle, drifting piece which sounds entirely brilliant too.

Finally, the album closes with the entirely appropriate Unputdownable, and Róisín Murphy‘s long-awaited comeback is over. It might have been a long time coming, and it might have been an understated release when it arrived, but it was definitely worth it.

You can still find Hairless Toys at all major retailers.

Albums chart of the year 2016

Here are the top albums of last year, for stowaways:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise
  2. New Order – Music Complete [number 1 in 2015]
  3. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 1: The Time Machine [number 6 in 2015]
  4. David Bowie – Best Of Bowie
  5. Pet Shop Boys – Super
  6. David Bowie – Blackstar
  7. Conjure One – Holoscenic [released in 2015]
  8. Clarke Hartnoll – 2Square
  9. David Bowie – Nothing Has Changed [number 25 in 2015]
  10. Shit Robot – What Follows
  11. Róisín Murphy – Hairless Toys [number 26 in 2015]
  12. C Duncan – The Midnight Sun
  13. Air – Twentyears
  14. I Monster – Bright Sparks
  15. Delerium – Mythologie
  16. David Bowie – The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
  17. Yello – Toy
  18. Little Boots – Working Girl [number 4 in 2015]
  19. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
  20. David Bowie – Hunky Dory

More in a year or so…

Singles chart of the year 2016

Here are the top singles for stowaways in 2016:

  1. Pet Shop Boys – The Pop Kids
  2. Jean-Michel Jarre & Pet Shop Boys – Brick England
  3. Massive Attack – Ritual Spirit EP
  4. Pet Shop Boys – Twenty-Something
  5. Röyksopp feat. Susanne Sundfør – Never Ever
  6. Shit Robot – End of the Trail
  7. C Duncan – Wanted to Want It Too
  8. Delerium with Phildel – Ritual
  9. Pet Shop Boys – Say It to Me
  10. New Order feat. Elly Jackson (La Roux) – Tutti Frutti [number 5 in 2015]
  11. Clarke Hartnoll – Better Have a Drink to Think
  12. Jean-Michel Jarre – Remix EP (II)
  13. Pet Shop Boys – Inner Sanctum
  14. Goldfrapp – Stranger [number 42 in 2013]
  15. Conjure One feat. Hannah Ray – Kill the Fear [released in 2015]
  16. I Monster – The Bradley Brothers realise the transmutation of the Chamberlin to the MELLOTRON
  17. Róisín Murphy – Exploitation [released in 2015]
  18. Massive Attack – The Spoils / Come Near Me
  19. Jean-Michel Jarre – The Heart of Noise
  20. Clarke Hartnoll – Single Function

We’ll look at the albums next week!

Chart for stowaways – 18 June 2016

A few changes on the albums this week:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise
  2. Pet Shop Boys – Super
  3. New Order – Music Complete
  4. Clarke Hartnoll – 2Square
  5. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 1: The Time Machine
  6. I Monster – Bright Sparks
  7. Conjure One – Holoscenic
  8. David Bowie – Best of Bowie
  9. ABC – The Lexicon of Love II
  10. Róisín Murphy – Hairless Toys

Chart for stowaways – 4 June 2016

These are the albums for this week:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise
  2. Pet Shop Boys – Super
  3. New Order – Music Complete
  4. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 1: The Time Machine
  5. Conjure One – Holoscenic
  6. Róisín Murphy – Hairless Toys
  7. David Bowie – Changesonebowie
  8. David Bowie – Best Of Bowie
  9. Little Boots – Working Girl
  10. Leftfield – Alternative Light Source

Chart for stowaways – 21 May 2016

Here are this week’s top albums:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise
  2. Pet Shop Boys – Super
  3. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 1: The Time Machine
  4. New Order – Music Complete
  5. Conjure One – Holoscenic
  6. Róisín Murphy – Hairless Toys
  7. David Bowie – Best of Bowie
  8. Little Boots – Working Girl
  9. Brian Eno – The Ship
  10. Leftfield – Alternative Light Source