After a seven-year gap between 2007’s Overpowered and last year’s mercury-nominated Hairless Toys, Róisín Murphy returns with Take Her Up To Monto. The title is lifted from the Irish folk song, popularized by The Dubliners, about the seedy history of Dublin’s red light district. It was written and recorded in the same period as last year's offering with the same producer. Murphy was aiming for a "sleepy, synthesized vibe" and she has definitely achieved that.
Murphy is known for her arty idiosyncrasies in both her music and its presentation. She has been heavily influenced by Bjork and has, in turn, influenced Lady Gaga. With Take Her Up To Monto she is definitely leaning more towards Kate Bush or Bjork than Gaga or Goldfrapp. This is music for grown-ups with introspective lyrics and complex song structures. You won't be hearing these in the local nightclub. Listening to Take Her Up To Monto feels like reading someone's private diary. There are no concessions to the pop mainstream where she made her name, first with Moloko and latterly as a solo artist. Murphy's highly personal delivery tightens the gut and raises a lump in the throat. It can be quite uncomfortable listening.
‘Mastermind’ starts the album slowly with a self-analytical lyrical passage, a personal State-Of-The-Nation address, before hitting its groove. ‘Lip Service’ takes a lighter turn with a jazzy, lounge band backdrop for Murphy's theatrical delivery while a recurring piano theme underpins ‘Thoughts Wasted’. ‘Ten Miles High’ sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack to Blade Runner.
I am always dubious whenever I hear that an album was recorded at the same sessions as a previous one because it suggests that the tracks contained within weren’t up to scratch last year but that they will suffice now. It sounds like the leftovers of the Hairless Toys sessions have been polished and served up on Take Her Up To Monto. There is much of interest here but little to entertain. As B-sides or EP tracks many of these tracks would give a deeper feeling and understanding of those Hairless Toys songs but in isolation this collection is easier to admire than to enjoy. One for Murphy completists only.