Things To Make And Do
...the devil's work as an aural actuality...
One thing stands in the way of this brilliant, awesomely original album being a perfect 10. And that is that it is intensely, overwhelmingly, brain-blowingly irritating. Absolutely marvellous as a concept, the devil’s work as an aural actuality.
The [a]Moloko[/a] two, siren-alike vocalist Roisin Murphy and musichead Mark Brydon, thrive on such perversity. Their first album, ‘Do You Like My Tight Sweater?’, which trip-hopped the light fantastic in the wake of successes by Portishead and Massive Attack and its follow-up, ‘I Am Not A Doctor’, a pop jungle funkfest with some other stuff thrown in – including ‘Sing It Back’, last summer’s unavoidable, chart-busting Ibiza anthem – cast [a]Moloko[/a] as chancers riding on the coat-tails of your proper genre-makers.
What ‘Things To Make And Do’, er, does is to establish the pair as being true masters of their own domain. It kicks off like a mad thing; ‘Pure Pleasure Seeker’, all chunky Teutonic beats, growling seductress vocals and scarifying faux opera (think [I]The Omen[/I]), setting the tone for an onslaught of whimsy with the odd flash of genius.
Of the 18 tracks, five are sneaking, scratchily gibbering interludes of a minute’s duration. On the sleeve they, unlike the proper tracks, are given Roman numerals and their titles written weally, weally likkle; all in all, very annoying and a terrible contrivance for which one point is deducted.
One of the most stand-out bizarre (and that’s no mean feat on this peculiar album) tracks is ‘Indigo’, whose lyric repeats “Rameses/Colossus” over and over like some particularly rabid, sonorous Greek chorus with a blood crime on their mind; although tremendously naff and confusing, it’s actually genuinely frightening.
Murphy‘s Piaff/Kitt/Joplin takeoffs and Brydon‘s melting-pot experimentation is at times awfully clever and sometimes plain daft. While the thematics deal with love, loneliness, sex… the human condition, their famed playfulness means they come across as flip and glib. The ill-matched array of musical styles and inept poeticism see them lose another two points. The success of trancey no-brainer and current chart hit ‘The Time Is Now’, with its charmingly simple Latin/acoustic house rhythms, is testament to the duo’s ability to achieve more when they try less.
But the good news is that they achieve what they set out to do – a toe-curlingly trendy attempt to second-guess modernity being the perfect endeavour for any serious postmodern pop pioneer.