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Moloko: Northern Exposure.

10 March 2003 | 1:00 am | Mike Gee
Originally Appeared In

Do The Loko Motion.

Statues is in stores now.

Roisin Murphy is talking about her nipples. Of course. Whatever else would she be talking about? And before you go ‘this is sexist’ she brought them up. So it seems the perfect place to start. They are, after all, a prominent feature of the cover to Moloko’s fourth album, Statues.

And what an album it is. Absolutely outstanding. A wonderful insouciant blend of dance pop with majestic atmospheres, jazzy runs, Northern soul, orchestral sweeps. It is a wonderfully mature and imaginative record. A record that places Moloko way above most of the unimaginative dance pack or the vapid chill majority who chase the fad buck.

The cover, then: Roisin is up to her waste in water - estuary or the like, a beer in both hands, hair whipping in the wind, teeth clenched... it’s a bloody marvellous photo. And she’s obviously very cold.

“How did you know that? Oh my nipples... “ I wasn’t going to bring them up. “Mmm, I think we’re old enough to deal with this. I’m not so naive as to believe that people won’t notice my little nipples, nippling out there. There’s more to the picture than a nipple or two anyway…”

So why that picture and the album title, Statues.

“The image came first,” she says. “There was that juxtaposition between the image and the statement. There’s that frozen thing yet the image is so full of movement. But these things are more for you to interpret than me.” She’s teasing.

“I’m just a bit bored waiting for things to happen,” she says. “We finished it about six weeks ago and it doesn’t come out for a while. Really, it’s just an opportunity for me to make mischief for myself.”

It’s such a big and beautiful album.

“Not too big I hope,” she says. “We were very conscious of not making an overblown record. We set out with less in mind than on any of our previous albums. I think it’s about that point when you grow up and say ‘Oh, it’s alright just to be me. If you don’t like it you know what to do with it.’ We let it develop itself.  Initially we thought we were going to make a record more like Tight Sweater but I think that was only because we were coming from the standpoint of letting a record out without worrying about it too much.”

“Having said that, production was epic - in Moloko terms anyway. It was also a complicated record to finish but it wasn’t too start.”

What is interesting is hearing the way this album developed. Having heard an initial six un-mastered tracks, then two final masters with different track running orders and then finished product, the evolvement is staggering. The un-mastered tracks are more orchestral and airy, the masters tighter, the rhythms slightly more pronounced and the overall sound floods more. A great beautiful wash of sound. Honestly, you’ll want to find a ballroom with this record and stand in the middle of it and spin or do whatever it is that you do. Roisin sings her heart out too. She sounds so soulful.

“I guess it’s just experience, really. That thing where you accept yourself. Where you grow up. You don’t have to be quite as affected as you were when you were a kid. There’s a transitional where that’s very uncomfortable. I think with this album we’ve jumped to an area where it’s all comfortable and singing has become second nature to me now.”

It isn’t surprising. Moloko are almost a decade old now since coming together in 1994. For the Dubliner. it’s a satisfying achievement.

“It really is,” she says. “We’ve done it our own way. I think we’re really lucky that we did grow very gradually and you can now see a trajectory that while we were in the middle of it we couldn’t see. Everything’s come to us at a very slow and manageable pace. I don’t know of any other artist who’ve had the same thing. I can’t see it all anywhere else in the industry, so we are very lucky.”

“It is hard sometimes. It’s hard being a control freak,” she giggles. “And you only ever have yourself to blame so you can be quite hard on yourself but otherwise it’s fantastic. I think the way the industry is, it’s hard on everybody. I just don’t any other act that is in the position to make this kind of record at this stage of their career, that’s got there at our pace.”

It’s hard to think of another album remotely like Statues. Seriously.

“I can’t think of anybody who’s ever made a record like any record we’ve made,” she laughs. “For better or worse.”

Isn’t that the whole point of creation - to make something that is at least original.

“Is that the point. A lot of people would disagree with you. But with us it has been a point to make something original. Some people would say that is quite narrowing, to try and be original. On this record we tried less hard to be original than ever before. But that ‘s all part of that point in time you come to where you accept you are original and there’s nothing anybody can do to change that.”