Do You Like My Tight Sweater? came out in the mid-nineties, around the time dance and trip-hop was immensely popular. Instead of being just another run of the mill imitation of the likes of Massive Attack and Portishead, Moloko were firmly assured of their own style by the time this album came out, not least because of the playful, skillful and highly unusual vocal style of Roisin Murphy. On the opener Fun for Me, she bends and twists her tongue around phrases of varying hilarity describing her bizarre dreams, utilizing a wide vocal range and onomatopoeic descriptions of a clock ticking and her own manic laugh. It sounds like the smooth ravings of a madwoman, (the video, with Murphy dressed as a nurse, singing in the darkness and occasionally curled in a corner of a room, seemingly would reflect this notion) but with Brydon’s musical backing of fat electronics and drums making it an oddly catchy number. It’s a good indicator of what is to come – the combination of the psychotic and the sophisticated; a musical Patrick Bateman. Yet the two go superbly hand in hand: the charm and brilliance of the music, which is irresistibly smooth in places, seductive in others and just plain fun still elsewhere, ends up being the perfect bedfellow for Murphy’s vocals, which are intermittently smooth and frenzied. At its worst, the combination sounds like the sort of thing that one would find hilarious at in a club, at 3am, off one’s face; at best, Do You Like My Tight Sweater? offers superbly unique and gorgeous musicianship, some of the best in the trip-hop/electronica canon. The pinnacle of such achievements include Lotus Eaters, with Murphy sounding both empoweringly seductive and disturbingly masculine on the same track, performing over the Brydon’s funkiest groove on the album, with crunching synths, futuristic sound effects and the tightest of tight drums. Or how about Party Weirdo; another futuristic groove with extraterrestrial sound effects, hilarious Valley Girl impersonations from Murphy and a beat that is both addictive and effective. Do You Like My Tight Sweater? plays out like music for a late night, with downbeat tempos, cinematic sound effects and a vibe that’s both chilled out and a little peculiar. Moloko were the unsung anti-heroes of electronic dance music, too weird for huge success, or even to be ignored. No track is standard fare: there’s just a little bit of madness or intrigue in all of them, and for that reason it stands head and shoulders above many other works of the same style. Murphy’s vocal style perhaps retains a little of the charisma and snarl of Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, but is otherwise totally an asset to itself: I can assure you, you haven’t heard any other voice like hers. The production – tight, groovy and experimental without being alienating – is superbly polished and very fun. Moloko made a highly original and enjoyable album here, one that has you both bopping your head and smiling without knowing why. I can assure you, if it doesn’t brighten up your day, it’ll certainly intrigue you.
Words - Adam