- Killer disco-house funk in partnership with Maurice Fulton.
- Midway through the video that accompanies "Plaything," the A-side of Róisín Murphy's latest EP, an interior drama plays out on a dance floor. As she's led by a friend to take a breather, she sings, "I know I mean nothing to you." She's flagging, and seemingly despondent. (At this point, you can only hear claps and soft, curling synth tones.) Once the kicks and keys return—the song is produced by Maurice Fulton, and that trademark disco funk is unmistakably his—Murphy psyches herself up to go again. "Just taking me / with a pinch of salt," she sings, visibly re-energised, "Breaking me / Don't give a thought! / Shaking me / To the very core / Play with me / Till you get bored." The track's garage shuffle kicks back in, and suddenly she's back on the dance floor, doing high leg kicks.
The clip, which Murphy directed, tells a familiar story of a dip on a night out, but it possibly nods to a broader theme. In an interview a few years ago, the Irish artist recalled the barriers she faced under a more intense spotlight, when she'd made her 2007 album, Overpowered, on EMI. "[The title track] was given to [BBC] Radio 1 way up front, and we were told that the guy who runs Radio 1's wife just loves this record," she said. "It was like, 'We've been on holiday with it and we love this record, we've been listening to it and listening to it and listening to it… we're not going to play it though.'" That frustration surfaced again a few days ago in a string of tweets. "I feel like I'm banging my head against the wall," she wrote in one. "I make good and surprising records… But I get indifference in the industry."
But "Plaything," far from being a diatribe, is about resilience. That comes through in the music as well. Murphy sings in short, snappy phrases, most of which end in subtle vibrato. The melody alternates between sweet and sour spots, nuzzling deeply into both. The syncopated skip gives it an agitated feel. It's a killer party anthem spiced with discontent, which, after the weary breakdown, makes it all the more rousing. "Like," on the other hand, is loose and liquid, led by a bassline funk and billowy vocals. There are traces of Fulton's fibreglass textures in the synths, which occasionally seize up and glitch in ways that recall his knottier Syclops material. As on their last collaboration—this is the second of four planned EPs—Fulton dials down his most manic impulses. And like their last record, Plaything / Like finds Murphy and Fulton in extraordinary form.