Roisin Murphy's Overpowered is my favorite album of the last two weeks. A sleeper, too: the somnolent Moloko never did much for me. The album sleeve -- a low budget attempt at Bjorkian fantasia -- put me off too. Groove Armada, among others, construct gleaming, squelchy electro grooves that evoke without mimicking Bobby Orlando, Kraftwerk, and Orbital. That's what I could find; there are no doubt more allusions I haven't picked out (yesterday the chorus of "You Make Me Better" summoned Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time").
Murphy's voice is the killer. Like the music, it's a lithe amalgamation of every diva that's ever soared over busy arrangements. Dusty Springfield, the low snarl of Alicia "I Love The Nightlife" Bridges, Shara Nelson, Tracey Thorn -- in songs like "Overpowered" and the uncategorizable "Dear Miami" she's absorbed them; her oxytoxins are flowing as she turns a critical eye on the melting sun. I love this kind of out-in-the-city avidness. I love this kind of out-on-the-streets avidness. There's always room for women of intelligence and grace who can confess to low self-esteem and how weak they are in the presence of beauty without succumbing to the preciousness about which former Sleater Kinney guitarist/singer Carrie Brownstein warns us in her new NPR blog (thanks, Carl Wilson) -- if I'd any advice to offer Murphy, it's to leave the cover harlequinade to lesser performers, thanks.