Album: Moloko

Statues, Echo

Andy Gill
Friday 28 February 2003 01:00

You might not notice at first glance, but Statues is the first offering from Moloko since Mark Brydon and Roisin Murphy's relationship became strictly platonic, rather than romantic. Apart from maybe "Blow x Blow" and the grandiose, symphonic closer "Over & Over", there's little evidence of their split in Murphy's lyrics here, which seem mostly concerned with larging it up – as the cover photo confirms, she's the Cerys Matthews of the dance scene, a party animal who knows what her right arm's for; and, for that matter, her left arm. Certainly, few bands are able to convey the heady euphoria of clubbing with anything like Moloko's potency when they're on form.

But try though they may to repeat the success of "Sing It Back" with tracks such as "Familiar Feeling", "Forever More" and "100%", there's something awkward about Statues that militates against its effectiveness. The dance tracks seem over-programmed, their meticulously arrayed drum tracks leaving no room in the grooves: there's a slightly sinister sense that all your possible movements have been pre-empted. That impression is exacerbated by the way Murphy's vocals adhere so tightly to the convoluted melodies, tracking their tricksy course with all the spontaneity and warmth of the speaking clock; then again, it would be hard to inject passion and conviction into lazy clichés such as: "I need to get so high/ And want somebody to blow my mind." For a couple who've presumably gone through traumatic times, Brydon and Murphy sound desperate to conceal their emotions in the sheer busy-ness of work. The result is a sort of petrified party music, too formal to be fun.

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