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Moloko - Statues (Echo)

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It's been nearly three years since the release of "Things to make and do" and, in that time, Roisín Murphy and Mark Brydon, the couple whose coming together was the start of Moloko, have split up. Thankfully, though, rather than letting the end of their personal relationship put an end to the band, they've produced a brilliant new album in which Roisín lays her heart bare.

With this, their fourth album, they seem to have taken stock of what they've done before, producing a collection of music that draws on everything they've done and filtered it through the skills they've developed. It kicks off with the single 'Familiar feeling' a musically massive track - funky dance music overlaid with strings, as Roisín sings of recriminations and regrets. 'Come on' could be from their first album, the electro-funk style and Roisín's quirky vocals echo their earliest work, but the slick professional production shows how far they've come since tracks like 'Fun for me'.

And on it goes, 'Cannot contain this' is smooth dance music that could be the next 'Sing it back', where, lyrically, there's less recrimination and more understanding on show. The title track is a slow mournful piece with a lush backing of strings and piano. The pace picks right back up with 'Forever more', a housey track with more than a hint of Azzido da Bass's 'Doom's night' about it.

'Blow x blow' brings back the funk sound, a perfect slice of dancefloor fodder, with a delicious vocal from Roisín and some nice strings. '100%' goes back to the big sound of their last album and everything goes into the mix - strings, piano, synths, a brass section, a massive production and a powerful vocal; it builds and builds to a very serious crescendo - this is a track to hear live, without a doubt.

'The only ones' takes it down a gear or two, a mellower and much more simple track, a song for chilling out to. Roisín's shows her vocal abilities at the start of 'I want you', singing to a simple piano backing, but the track soon bursts out into a great disco sound. And it all wraps up with the epic 'Over & over', which opens with a bang with full strings and clocks in at nearly 10 minutes. It's an ambitiously large song that mixes sounds and styles, but they pull it off with considerable skill.

Their relationship issues aside, Moloko prove themselves, if proof were needed, to be one of the most interesting and capable bands around. Having overcome initial failures, avoided the trap of disappearing after a massive dance hit and built their sound to one that's immediately recognisable, but never predictable, they've become a band that can always be expected to make undeniably great music. Here's hoping they continue to do so for a very long time.

Donnacha DeLong

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