addled with the "two hit wonder" tag from her days in Moloko, and a debut album championed by critics but invisible on the sales sheets, Roisin Murphy is a darling of a pop star whose chart legacy may be in danger of transmogrifying to footnote status. But while the commercial potential of her new album may be up for debate, as a showcase for Rosin Murphy’s talent, Overpowered is an enormous success.
Propelled by a marriage of calculated risk taking and confident delivery, Murphy and her stable of collaborators have a sharp collection of tunes on their hands. There’s an aligning personality that ties the process together, but each song can stand alone with a unique identity outside the shared DNA. Ranging from the icy cool of "Tell Everybody" to the handclap-happy disco stalk of "You Know Me Better,” every offering suggests a refreshingly balls-out ambition to make big distinctive pop tunes tailored to singledom. It may all be a ruse so that Murphy can dress up in elaborate costumes for a variety of haute haute haute! single promo sleeves, but what a ruse!
Murphy’s confidence in her wardrobe is dwarfed by the regal self-assurance that she exudes in her delivery. Our narrator doesn’t coast on her vocals, nay, she sells the tunes with every coo, kiss-off, and plead in her arsenal. A song such as the inhibition-removal plea "Primitive,” would sound absurd in the wrong hands, but is handled with expert skill by Murphy. This confidence occasionally leads to over-earnest stumbles, such as the environmental conservation essay "Dear Miami," which underscores the R. Kelly-sian gambles at work.
Even so, Overpowered has a certain swagger that may disqualify it from immediate entry from the dance floor. The results can be danced to, but Murphy seems to be baiting the greasy-faced headphone crowd as well. Overpowered knows how to squeech and squelch in the proper places, while touches of cowbell, beatboxery, and the occasional Prince styled riff all get sprinkled in accordingly. It's beating, bubbly pop heart seems to demand a bit more observation at first than tailfeather movement. That’s not to say that there isn't brainy material on the dancefloor—it's just that Overpowered seems to be a different beast altogether. It’s more of a design-conscious dance excursion that seems fixated on enchantment as a primary means of entry.
Reviewed by: Dan MacRae
Reviewed on: 2007-10-24