Label: Echo Records
Released: 10 April 2000
Genre: Electronica/Drum & Bass/Funk/Pop
- Radio Moscow
- Pure Pleasure Seeker
- Absent Minded Friends
- Being Is Bewildering
- Remain The Same
- A Drop In The Ocean
- Dumb Inc
- The Time Is Now
- It's Your Problem
- It's Nothing
- Bingo Massacre
- Somebody Somewhere
- Just You And Me Dancing
- If You Have A Cross To Bear You May As Well Use It As A Crutch
- Keep Stepping
- Sing It Back (Boris' Musical Mix)
The 'difficult' third album from Sheffield
. It was released to great fanfare, hype and attention following the dance floor success
of Sing It Back
the previous summer (1999), and the more mainstream musical media got their first chance to scrutinise the crazy things that Moloko like to do on their albums.
Generally, the album continues where the previous two left off: Roisin Murphy's vocals still range from sultry rumblings to eardrum shattering screams, and Mark Brydon is still oblivious to the conventions of modern alternative dance music (such as the fact that the alto sax is not usually considered a rock instrument...). The biggest difference is the inclusion of many more live instruments (and I mean ‘really’ live, not sampled) than in the previous albums. This is probably partly due to the presence of Paul Slowley (drums) and Eddie Stevens (keyboard) in the studio. They had worked with Roisin and Mark before, whilst touring, but this album marked their first contribution to the recording process. The result is an album that sounds much more like the output from a live band than a programmer and a vocalist.
The major criticism levelled against this album was that it seemed as if Moloko were pandering to the tastes of the public. The inclusion of the Boris Dlugosh remix of 'Sing It Back', a single which originally appeared on I Am Not A Doctor, is clearly the result of pressure from record executives to cash in on the bands new found fame. Plus of course it features the single The Time Is Now, which although a great song, is certainly more timid than some previous Moloko experiments.
This is not to say that the album marks Moloko's 'selling out'. On the contrary, there's still plenty of unmarketable craziness going on: tracks that last less that 30 seconds, the death-chant-horror-saucepan-house of 'If you have a cross to bear you may as well use it as a crutch', and Roisin’s frankly evil mutterings on 'Mother' (a statement of her dislike for her mother, which pulls no punches, and is actually a little frightening...). As I wrote (in more detail) under the Moloko write-up, I think the band are well aware of the tightrope between being successful and selling out, and are approaching it with the requisite amount of irreverence.
The album also features songs that are arguably the most beautiful Moloko have ever made. Absent Minded Friends is incredibly moving, as is Being Is Bewildering. True, most of the great songs on this album are quite slow, emotional numbers, rather than the electronic funk of some of their previous greats, but they’re good songs nonetheless.
Overall, a difficult album to judge. If you have heard their previous work, and like it, then I imagine you will like this too, although be warned that it is less electronic, and more relaxed. If, on the other hand, you’ve never heard anything by Moloko, this is a great pace to start, since it features all their mainstream hit singles (Sing It Back, The Time is Now, Indigo, Pure Pleasure Seeker), and it might prepare you a little for the rampant zaniness of Killa Bunnies…
Also, Things To Make And do were what you needed when you were 10 years old and in the middle of one of those endless summer holidays, trapped with your grandparents. They seemed to turn up everywhere, these things to make and do – in your comics, on your TV, on the back of cereal boxes… the entire summer was spent with scissors, sticky backed plastic and colouring pencils…
This syndrome was clearly the inspiration behind the artwork on the Moloko album, which featured plenty of sewing patterns, dotted lines, and various odds and ends that might prove useful whilst making and doing things.
If you fancy making and doing something yourself, it seems one of the original uses of the phrase came from a 1961 children’s book. You can see an example of the original at http://members.aol.com/djadamson9/things.html. If anyone has any more information on the origin of things to make and do, let me know…
Thanks to Oolong who pointed the book out for me.