Subscribe to Bitch—an award-winning, 80 page feminist magazine. Image Map

Electro Feminisms: Roísín Murphy

Roísín Murphy is an Irish vocalist and producer who first came to public notice in the quirky electro group Moloko, a duo she formed with producer Mark Brydon. The duo's first album Do You Like My Tight Sweater? was released in 1995 and was titled after the pick-up line Murphy used to pull Brydon.

Moloko's biggest hit was "Sing It Back," which became a huge hit in 1999 when producer Boris Dlugosch remixed the song into disco house heaven. The song was seemingly omnipresent in the clubs of the time, sure-fire floor filler.

After another album, Roísín struck out on her own, recording an album with producer Matthew Herbert called Ruby Blue. The album wasn't a tremendous success, and its mix of disco, jazz and experimental sound design isn't for everyone. "If We're In Love" was the first single, and it is quite lovely. The visuals for the fairytale are certainly interesting.

After the comparative failure of Ruby Blue, Murphy followed it up with a 80s disco and funk flavoured album called Overpowered. It is a truly great album, consistent from start to finish. The album was accompanied by a really great video and art campaign featuring Roísín wearing experimental couture clothes in mundane settings like a cafe or suburban home. Watching those videos, it's hard not to think that Murphy just missed the boat—with Lady Gaga striking gold with similarly eccentric visuals the following year.

Interesting though, one of the most striking visuals from the Overpowered album was actually a stripped-down acoustic performance Murphy gave for the BBC's Culture Show. I was lucky enough to see Moloko live in the early '00s, and I have to say, Roísín is one of the most electrifying live performers I've ever seen. I wasn't a huge Moloko fan before seeing them live, but have been a huge fan ever since. For a decade and a half, Roísín Murphy has been making smart, innovative, artsy electropop. Gaga who?

Want more from Bitch? Good news! Our quarterly magazine, Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, is packed with 80+ pages of feminist analysis, reviews, illustrations, and more. Subscribe today

Subscribe to Bitch


Comments

5 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Oh, I just love love love

Oh, I just love love love her! I started liking Moloko since their "I am not a doctor' album and have been a fan since. However, I don't feels as if 'she has missed the boat'. She has a great fan base that appreciate her. Too bad everybody keeps on mentioning Lady Gaga (as much as I also like her).

I just learned about her last year.

When a friend was listening to a soundtrack of, of all things, So You Think You Can Dance in the car. I promptly went home and made a Róisín Murphy Pandora station. Love her!

say what you want - but she's

say what you want - but she's still A LOT about making herself visually pleasing in a traditionally aesthetic way - which is why I still prefer Lady Gaga!

Tottaly agree, she's Roxy

Tottaly agree, she's Roxy Music to Lady Gaga's Kiss/GG Allin

Gaga vs. Roisin

I was thinking I'd agree, but then I watched the Overpowered video (embedded in the blog post) - the outfit she's wearing there is every bit as weird as any Lady Gaga (or David Bowie) outfit. However, her makeup (and movements/style) is a lot more subdued. In general, I'd say Lady Gaga is more "radical" (and sexualized) in terms of her visual presentation (and an amazing dancer). Lady Gaga is Madonna's heir apparent.

However, Lady Gaga's music is complete pop (not even "electro", I wouldn't say), pretty much indistinguishable from other Top 40 stuff (before I saw her videos, she didn't stand out for me at all). Roisin/Moloko's music (and lyrics) are quite a bit more unusual and interesting, I think.

Compare lines like:

Wish I could shut my playboy mouth, oh, oh, oh
How'd I turn my shirt inside out? Inside out, right.
[Lady Gaga's "Let's Dance"]

I dreamt that the bogeyman went down on Mr Spock
Sugar was a flowing sock it to 'em sock
[Roisin in Moloko's "Fun for Me"]

p.s. Great post!