Essential Róisín Murphy: The Top 10 Best Tracks

Highlighting the left-field, dance-pop chanteuse's top 10 tracks

Supplied publicity photo, 2015
Róisín Murphy Supplied publicity photo, 2015

Left-field Irish pop star Róisín Murphy is touring Canada for the first time as a solo artist on Nov. 2nd (Toronto) and 3rd (Montreal).

Her most recent album, Take Her Up to Monto, continues her electronic music explorations. She lands somewhere outside of the traditional dance and pop worlds, and when combined with her irreverent self-directed music videos, Murphy comes across as a bit of an eccentric. A lovable, brilliant one, though.

Previous to her solo career, Murphy was part of Moloko, an act that released four albums and scored three top 10 UK singles between 1995-2003. After Moloko broke up in 2003, Murphy went solo and has defined her career as a fearless pop star — oscillating from major label diva (2007's Overpowered) to self-produced, Mercury Prize-nominated critical darling (2015's Hairless Toys). In between, she's collaborated with numerous artists and EDM producers as a featured vocalist.

All of this musical diversity makes it hard to pin down her best work — there's simply so much brilliance — but we've decided to consider her solo work along with Moloko and her collaborations in this list. There's bound to be a favourite of yours that fell below the notice of this top 10, but we hope you'll agree with most of our choices here.


10 "Exploitation"

from 2015's Hairless Toys

"Who's exploiting who?" asks Murphy in her lead single for Hairless Toys. "Exploitation" is a nine-minute opus of whispered sexuality and aloof come-ons that dissolve into a dissonant soundscape of pads and grooves. The single version represents only part of the off-beat pop brilliance that is the full track.


9 "Overpowered"

from 2007's Overpowered

Another lead single takes top honours in Murphy's stellar discography. "Overpowered" eases fans from Murphy's experimental 2005 Ruby Blue into her big-budget EMI Records pop era. The track's burbling synths are combined with warped Freudian verses ("These amourant feelings / A cognitive state / Need a love object / To reciprocate") and blend brilliantly with the brazenly melodic pop bridge and chorus.


8 "Forever More"

from Moloko's 2003 album Statues

Moloko were always a dance-pop act, but they went straight to the clubs with "Forever More." Immediately, "Forever More" grabs you with a pulsating acid bass groove and builds to incorporate Murphy's longing vocals and lyrics: "Got to find me somebody / But there's nobody / To love me." Heartbreak and loneliness always connect on the dance floor.


7 "Royal T"

from Crookers' 2010's Tons of Friends

Murphy goes completely gonzo on Crookers' stomping electro-house anthem "Royal T." The track starts with a pleasant verse and straight-forward sounding grooves, but exactly at the minute mark it takes an about-turn. Murphy starts to sing-shout, "Oh! I don't wanna hear the alarm / You don't have to use your charm / You don't have to break my arm" — and it gets more intense from there. Such amazing, fearless work.


6 "Never Enough (Chocolate Puma Remix)"

from Boris Dlugosch's 2001 single

German DJ and producer Boris Dlugosch remixed Moloko's "Sing It Back" and took it to #4 on the UK Singles Chart. As a thank you, Moloko co-produced "Never Enough" and featured Murphy on vocals. It was another hit and charted at #16 in the UK. Fiercely melodic, it's clear that the song was written to chart in a way that is unlike most of Murphy's and Moloko's work. The piano-house remix by Chocolate Puma adds even more momentum to the song and it quickly became a club classic. Twelve years later, the Chocolate Puma remix's legacy was recognized with a re-release and 2013 update.


5 "Sing It Back (Boris Musical Mix Edit)"

from Moloko's 1999 album I Am Not A Doctor

As mentioned with "Never Enough," "Sing It Back" took Moloko from the underground to the mainstream thanks to a remix by Boris Dlugosch. The slinky, swaying Balearic mix charted internationally and is the perfect compliment to the lazy, romantic vibe of the lyrics and its punny sexual double entendres ("Come / Come / Come to my sweet melody"). The video, featuring Murphy in a discoball dress, also launched her reputation as a UK fashionista, and according to some, also "inspired" Lady Gaga numerous times.


4 "The Time Is Now"

from Moloko's 2000 album Things to Make and Do

Moloko's follow-up to "Sing It Back" was a home-run, charting at #2 on the UK Singles Charts and represented a confident evolution for the duo. The flamenco-flavored track recalls Boris Dlugosch's remix with its Spanish club inspirations, but re-introduces Murphy's vocal quirks from previous Moloko records in a pop form.


3 "Familiar Feeling"

from Moloko's 2003 album Statues

The lead single from Moloko's final album peaked at #10 on the UK Singles Charts and refines the sounds of "The Time Is Now" into a driving, undeniable Spanish salsa.


2 "Let Me Know"

from 2007's Overpowered

Murphy goes for pop stardom her way in the highest-charting single from Overpowered (UK #28). "Let me know when you're lonely babe," Murphy sings over an interpolation of the classic post-disco groove, "Sure Shot." A near-perfect pop song that sounds both effortless and irresistible.


1 "Unputdownable"

from 2015's Hairless Toys

"Unputdownable" is an epic ballad to a lover, drawing an analogy between a relationship and the reading of a book. "Well I'm left in confusion / By your epilogue / Where is the conclusion? / A narrative arc?" Murphy sings expectantly. The track then completely stops in the middle, picking up with a lonely, strummed acoustic guitar. Afterwards, the song closes with the lyrical refrain "If you'd allow me / To read your mind" and repeats "To read your mind" until its inconclusive end. Simply perfection.

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