Where there’s disco, there’s an intoxicating darkness. Róisín Murphy’s first album in eight years embraces that dichotomy on intimate late-night tales, both personal and in an imagined voice of the 1980s LGBT community of New York’s ball scene. A regal glamour illuminated previous albums Ruby Blue and Overpowered , but the former Moloko star’s third is her most exquisitely produced yet: inside is a hedonistic haven. It’s an album that distracts from the tyranny of the norm – the rent-paying rigmarole and relentlessness of everyday life – with Murphy cooing as if lounging in a giant champagne glass. Never is it gaudy, however. From the glasslike Gone Fishing to its Italo-disco and house mutations and unusual country diversions, it draws from the past but adds a crisp, modern polish; and unlike other revivalists, there’s a depth to Murphy’s vocals, as if she has experienced the freaks and fantasy of Studio 54 firsthand. Hairless Toys is pure, evocative elegance, her performance as flamboyant and fragile as the subculture she celebrates.
Harriet Gibsone is a freelance journalist